The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in the United States has reached five million, by far the highest in the world, as the new coronavirus keeps spreading rapidly across the country.
The grim milestone was reached on Sunday, according to a tally compiled by Johns Hopkins University, with new infections running at about 54,000 a day.
While that figure is lower from a peak of more than 70,000 in the second half of July, cases are rising in nearly 20 states and related deaths are climbing in most.
The death toll from the coronavirus in the US stands at 162,455, also the highest in the world.
Globally, more than 19.6 million COVID-19 cases have been confirmed, with some 727,000 related deaths. Behind the US, Brazil has reported more than three million confirmed infections and some 100,000 fatalities.
India has the world’s third-highest confirmed caseload, at more than 2.15 million, followed by Russia and South Africa, at some 885,000 and 553,000 infections respectively.
‘Boggles the mind’
Opinion polls in the US have shown a large majority of voters being unhappy with President Donald Trump’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic, just months before he seeks re-election in a November vote.
The Republican president initially played down COVID-19’s threat and has drawn criticism for inconsistent messages on public health steps such as physical distancing and wearing masks during the coronavirus pandemic. Last month, after long resisting wearing a face mask in public, Trump struck a different tone saying he was in favour of the protective covering.
His Democrat opponent, Joe Biden, said the outbreak “shouldn’t have gotten this bad”.
“It’s a number that boggles the mind and breaks the heart. Each time the number goes up, it represents a life altered, a family stricken with anxiety, a community on edge,” Biden wrote on Twitter on Sunday.
The United States just passed 5 million reported infections of COVID-19. It’s a number that boggles the mind and breaks the heart. Each time the number goes up, it represents a life altered, a family stricken with anxiety, a community on edge. It shouldn’t have gotten this bad.
— Joe Biden (@JoeBiden) August 9, 2020
It came a day after Trump signed executive actions extending financial relief to US citizens hit by the pandemic after lawmakers failed to agree on a new economic stimulus package.
“We’ve had it and we’re going to save American jobs and provide relief to the American workers,” Trump told reporters on Saturday at his New Jersey golf club, in a room that featured a crowd of cheering supporters.
With double-digit unemployment, disruption to businesses from physical distancing rules and the rapid coronavirus spread, many in the country have been relying on relief measures approved earlier by Congress, but which mostly expired in July.