The United States has reached another grim milestone in the coronavirus pandemic, with the number of confirmed infections surging past 3 million on Wednesday.
The official tally, compiled by Johns Hopkins University, is almost twice as high as the second hardest-hit country, Brazil, and represents nearly one-quarter of the world's confirmed cases. The death toll also continues to rise, with nearly 132,000 fatalities reported nationwide.
The latest milestone comes five months after the first infection was confirmed in the U.S. and only a month after the country recorded 2 million cases, a sign that this crisis is not just far from over, it's actually accelerating across the nation.
At least 35 states — including Arizona, California, Georgia and Texas — are seeing a daily increase of new cases this week, with many of them also dealing with a rise in hospitalizations and a shortage of testing supplies.
"It's a hot mess," 47-year-old Jennifer Hudson, who had to wait five days to get tested in Tucson, Arizona, told The Associated Press.
"The fact that we're relying on companies and we don't have a national response to this, it's ridiculous," she said. "It's keeping people who need tests from getting tests."
About half a year since the virus first emerged in China and began spreading into the world, the U.S. faces a grim reality that no other developed country in the world has seen. On Tuesday, for instance, the U.S. recorded an additional 60,021 confirmed infections, marking at least the third time in a week that the country set a new single-day record in new cases.
The latest daily record is about as high as the combined number of infections confirmed in Australia, Portugal and Venezuela since the pandemic began.
Health experts have blamed the surge on Americans' refusal to wear masks in public or follow social distancing guidelines when states began to lift lockdown restrictions in recent weeks. In Florida, one of the first states to allow beaches and nonessential businesses to reopen, health officials recorded more than 10,000 new cases in a single day for the first time last week.
The Sunshine State — like Texas, California and others — has since rolled back reopening plans and ordered many businesses to shut down or stop serving customers indoors.
But the Trump administration, which has refused calls to mandate the use of masks, has long criticized science-based COVID-19 guidelines and the president is now threatening to cut off federal aid if schools don't reopen in the fall.
(c)2020 New York Daily News
Visit New York Daily News at www.nydailynews.com
Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.