Washington: The US has recorded over 150,000 Covid-19 deaths, another grim milestone that comes amidst warning from a top Indian-American physician that the country has failed to arrest the spread of the deadly pandemic.
America’s coronavirus death toll was 150,676 as of Wednesday — more than a fifth of the world’s recorded deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University. The US also had over 4,426,000 confirmed cases, making it the world’s worst-hit country.
The first death in the US was reported on February 29. The country reached 50,000 deaths 54 days later on April 23, and 34 days later, on May 27, crossed 100,000 deaths. It has taken 63 days to add another 50,000 to reach the 150,000 mark, CNN reported.
“I think the fact that we as a country have not been able to get our arms around this, have not prioritised preventing those deaths is all that much more maddening,” Dr Ashish Jha, director of the Harvard Global Health Institute, said.
“And so, for me it’s frustration, it’s sadness. And a resolve to try to figure out how we prevent the next 150,000,” Jha told CNN.
“I think we can, but we’re really going to have to work for it,” he added.
Some states in the US are seeing their highest death tolls. California on Wednesday reported 197 Covid-related deaths in a single day, according to state Department of Public Health. That total far outpaces the previous high of 159, recorded just last week.
Florida also reported a record 216 deaths on Wednesday.
Infectious disease experts say the US is at a critical juncture, as debates about how and whether to reopen schools for in-person learning are taking place across the country.
Case rates rose as businesses reopened and distancing rules relaxed in late spring, and those wanting more normalcy soon should get more disciplined now by wearing masks, limiting outdoor dining and social gatherings, and closing bars, Dr Anthony Fauci said on Tuesday.
“It’s not going to spontaneously come down,” Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, he said in a call with several governors about the raging pandemic.
Fauci has also disputed claims in a video shared on social media by President Donald Trump about mask-wearing and the use of anti-malarial drug hydroxychloriquine to treat Covid-19.
Fauci told the BBC that it was not productive for him to judge the president’s tweets or retweets but made it clear that his own view on masks was well known in the White House, adding that “it’s not helpful” for conflicting guidance to be presented “when we are trying to get people to universally wear masks”.
Meanwhile, scholars at the Johns Hopkins University Center for Health Security said in a report that the United States needs to restart its response with policy actions at the federal, state and local levels to get control of the pandemic.
“Unlike many countries in the world, the United States is not currently on course to get control of this epidemic,” the report says, adding that, “It is time to reset.”
The report includes 10 recommendations that include universal mask mandates, federal leadership to improve testing and, in places where rates of transmission are worsening, stay-at-home orders.