United States surpasses 100,000 coronavirus deaths

Kate Feldman and Joseph Wilkinson
New York Daily News

The United States blew past another tragic mark in the fight against coronavirus on Wednesday surpassing 100,000 deaths nationwide.

The devastating toll, reported by Johns Hopkins University’s Coronavirus Resource Center, is much higher than any other country in the world and vastly exceeds the number of Americans killed in every conflict since the Korean War.

The deadly virus originated in Wuhan, China, with the first official case diagnosed on Dec. 1. As the disease spread worldwide, President Donald Trump insisted in January after the first U.S. patient was diagnosed that the nation had it “totally under control.”

On Feb. 26, he said the U.S. had 15 cases. “You have 15 people, and the 15 within a couple of days is going to be down to close to zero,” Trump said.

More case: But COVID-19 cases mushroomed at a Washington State nursing home, and then New York emerged as the epicenter, with 21,362 deaths in the five boroughs alone.

The 100,000 national death toll had initially been floated by Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, in late March, but the White House had brushed off the benchmark.

Instead, the nation continued to see the deadly disease spread rapidly while states struggled to shut down and convince people to stay home.

At the same time, other hard-hit regions around the world, including China and Italy, instituted harsh lockdowns that health officials have credited with helping to stop the contagion.

All 50 states are at least partially open as Connecticut became the final jurisdiction to lift some of its restrictions.

Other states, including Georgia, Texas and Florida, have been considerably slower in their shutdowns, waiting longer to close nonessential businesses and reopening doors sooner.

‘Badge of honor’? Last week, Trump called the United States’ high number of infections, which recently passed 1.5 million, a “badge of honor.”

“When we have a lot of cases, I don’t look at that as a bad thing,” he said. “I look at that in a certain respect as being a good thing, because it means our testing is much better. So, if we were testing a million people instead of 14 million people, it would have far few cases, right?”

States and municipalities are now left to balance the health and safety of their citizens with the revitalization of the economy, which has seen devastating losses this year. Schools remain closed, but industries like tourism, retail and dining have begun restarting despite concerns of a second wave in the fall.

Another 2.4 million people applied for unemployment last week, bringing the total of first-time claimants to 38.5 million.