US virus toll hits 101,621

30 May, 2020 12:00 AM printer

The disease caused by the novel coronavirus has killed at least 101,621 people in the United States since February. By April 13, it had killed in every state, report agencies.      

The novel coronavirus has killed at least 360,419 people since the outbreak first emerged in China last December. At least 5,826,680 cases of coronavirus have been registered in 196 countries and territories. Of these, at least 2,370,400 are now considered recovered.

The United States is the worst-hit country with 101,621 deaths from 1,721,926 cases. At least 399,991 people have been declared recovered.

After weeks of near universal sheltering in place, the overall daily toll has begun to decline, because of a sharp decrease in deaths and reported infections in some of the hardest-hit urban centers. But the virus is accelerating in other areas.

As of mid-May, every state had plans to loosen restrictions on activities and businesses as public health officials urge caution to avoid another surge.

Along the way, criteria for reporting deaths has changed in some states and cities. New York City in mid-April added more than 3,700 deaths of people who were presumed to have covid-19 but were never tested.

Even now, jurisdictions continue to fine-tune their counting and reporting procedures, so numbers in this piece may fluctuate as authorities reclassify cases.

Health officials agree that the number of reported cases is much lower than the actual number of people who have covid-19, because testing was slow to begin, and as of mid-May, far fewer U.S. residents have been tested than experts say is necessary to get a true picture of the virus’s reach.The virus continues to kill in New York, where at least 366,000 cases have been reported and at least 28,000 have died. But the pace has slowed considerably from the peak weeks in March and April when more than 1,000 died on some days.

Numbers of new deaths were also trending downward in Detroit, New Orleans and Chicago.

The District of Columbia and its suburbs, as well as Baltimore and Richmond, have seen enough recent cases that governors of Maryland and Virginia excluded the areas while allowing other parts of their states to begin reopening.

Meanwhile, smaller pockets of the virus continue to arise.

In Florida, home to millions of retirees, 1 of every 4 covid-19 deaths has been associated with a long-term care facility, according to recently released numbers. Most deaths worldwide have occurred among people older than 50 and those with underlying health problems, as they are often most vulnerable to respiratory disease. The first U.S. outbreak took root in Seattle-area nursing facilities.

Meat and poultry processing plants have experienced large, localized outbreaks. Workers at least 115 plants in 19 states have tested positive, according to a May 1 report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In states including South Dakota, Iowa, Nebraska, Washington and Indiana, so many workers tested positive that plants were forced to cut production or close. Pork production fell an estimated 50 percent.

Sparsely populated rural areas don’t have the huge raw numbers of cases or deaths that cities are reporting, but some rank highly in deaths and cases per capita. People in very rural areas are more likely to die of flu than urbanites and may be more vulnerable to covid-19 as well, according to a Post analysis of CDC data.

Thousands have become ill in Navajo Nation, a reservation with a land area similar in size to West Virginia covering swaths of Arizona, New Mexico and Utah but with a population of only 350,000. Medical care in the area is sparse and far-flung, cell service is spotty and about a third of homes lack running water.

A handful of counties in southwestern Georgia have some of the highest and most persistent rates of infection and deaths in the country.On April 16, as the virus appeared to be waning in some places and just arriving in others, the Trump administration released a framework for “reopening” the country. The first states began to loosen restrictions shortly afterward, and all 50 states planned to begin reopening in some form by Memorial Day weekend.

According to the president’s guidelines, accurate and thorough test results are necessary so that officials can make informed decisions about easing stay-at-home restrictions.

Because there is no coordinated national testing system, testing criteria and frequency vary widely among states and even among localities within states. Widespread implementation of testing has also experienced significant delays. As a result, some states and areas test much higher percentages of their populations than others, according to the Covid Tracking Project.

And plenty of states are opening without meeting benchmarks for testing and other criteria.