Two days after the US recorded its first case of coronavirus, Donald Trump said the situation was “totally under control” and assured the public it was “going to be just fine”.
Fast forward four months and the virus has spread across all 50 states with death toll of 100,000 and more than 1.6 million confirmed cases.
HOW DOES THE SITUATION IN THE US COMPARE?
The death toll in the US became the highest in the world in early April and has risen dramatically since then.
Trump initially said “50 to 60,000” people could die during the outbreak but in May he said he was hopeful the toll would be lower than 100,000. That benchmark has now been hit through and there are still about 1,000 deaths a day on average.
However, Trump has preferred to cite the mortality rate – that is the number of people that have died relative to the country’s population – as evidence that the US has dealt with the virus more effectively than some other nations.
Belgium, with a population of 11.5 million, has seen 80 people per 100,000 die during its coronavirus outbreak while the US, with a population of around 330 million, has seen death of nearly 30 people per 100,000.
Several countries in Europe had outbreaks around the same time as the US and all of them have seen the number of deaths grow quickly, peak and then fall away but the case is not same with US.
Some states that were badly affected earlier, like Louisiana and New York, have seen a substantial drop in the number of daily deaths but as the situation in those states has improved, others have worsened.
The most recent data says the US has carried out about 15 million coronavirus tests so far which puts the US way ahead of other countries in term of conducting tests – but when it comes to using testing to try to control the virus, there is more to it than the total number you’ve conducted.
Countries that did a lot of testing early in the pandemic, and followed it up by tracing the contacts of anyone who was infected, have been most successful in slowing the spread.
In South Korea, for example, they ramped up testing early on in the outbreak and managed to contain the virus. Less than 300 people have died with coronavirus in the country, which has a population of about 50 million.
WHAT HAPPENS NEXT IN THE US?
The death toll is still rising, albeit at a slower rate, and one model that has been cited by the White House predicts it could be at nearly 150,000 by August – although its projections have come in low in the past.
One of the issues with making projections is that no one is quite sure what effect the gradual reopening of the US economy will have on the spread of the virus. At one point, more than 90% of the US population was under mandatory lockdown orders, but the majority of states have now begun to loosen their stay-at-home restrictions.
Asked earlier this month whether lives would be lost to reopen the country – Trump, who is keen to get the US economy restarted ahead of his re-election campaign, said: “Will some people be affected badly? Yes. But we have to get our country opened and we have to get it open soon.”