The coronavirus death toll in the United States surpassed 100,000 on Wednesday, according to the Johns Hopkins University tally, making the US the first country to reach the six-figure, grim milestone.
The US leads the world in both deaths and infections, with at least 100,047 deaths and more than 1.69 million confirmed cases.
Still, President Donald Trump is continuing to pressure state governors to reopen their economies and allow the “transition to greatness” he has adopted as a new campaign slogan to proceed full speed ahead.
Trump bragged on Twitter about early gains in the US stock market indices and insisted that, “there will be ups and downs, but next year will be one of the best ever!”
All 50 states have started relaxing coronavirus restrictions to varying degrees. In Illinois and New York, among other states, restaurants are still closed to in-person dining and hair salons are shuttered. Many southern states have seen most businesses are open, with restrictions on capacity.
Trump was largely silent on coronavirus deaths on Wednesday, choosing instead to rail against Twitter for alleged censorship and “Obamagate“, an unproven idea that former President Barack Obama with his then-Vice President Joe Biden and a collection of intelligence operatives concocted the theory that Trump was colluding with Russia in order to win the 2016 election.
Trump several months ago likened the coronavirus to the flu and dismissed worries that it could lead to so many deaths. The administration’s leading scientists have since warned that as many as 240,000 Americans could die in the country’s outbreak.
Wednesday’s stark reality came as only half of Americans said they would be willing to get vaccinated if scientists are successful in developing a vaccine, according to a new poll released Wednesday from The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research. A vaccine is still 12-18 months away, according to many health experts.
Dr Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, issued a stern warning after viewing video showing crowds gathered at a pool party in Missouri over the weekend.
“We have a situation in which you see that type of crowding with no mask and people interacting. That’s not prudent and that’s inviting a situation that could get out of control,” he said during an interview Wednesday on CNN.
“Don’t start leapfrogging some of the recommendations in the guidelines because that’s really tempting fate and asking for trouble.”
Other public health experts cautioned that even more deaths are expected.
“Despite the terrible losses seen and the many difficulties Americans have faced to date in this pandemic, we’re still probably only in the early stages,” said Josh Michaud, associate director of global health policy with the Kaiser Family Foundation in Washington. “In the US, we could be looking at a long pandemic summer with a slow burn of cases and deaths. There’s also reason to be concerned about a new wave of infections in the fall. So, we’re definitely not out of the woods yet.”
Worldwide, the virus has infected nearly 5.6 million people and killed more than 350,000, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University of government reports, which experts have said does not show the entire scope of the pandemic.
Most people who get COVID-19 have mild cases and recover. However, the coronavirus has been seen attacking in far stealthier ways, from blood clots to heart and kidney damage.
Al Jazeera and news agencies