U.S. still leads the world in coronavirus cases, ahead of developing world

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In the early weeks of the coronavirus pandemic, charts showing the countries hit hardest by the disease included the U.S., along with European countries, including France, Spain and Italy. Now, more than four months later, the U.S. remains number one in the world for cases, only now it’s at the top of a list that includes almost all developing countries, according to an internal government document obtained by Yahoo News. 

A chart in an internal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention document dated July 28 shows the United States falling further behind Europe in its handling of coronavirus. The chart, which lists the countries with the highest daily average of new cases over the last seven days, shows the U.S. is first, with an average of 66,079 new cases reported daily over the last week, followed by Brazil with 56,665 and then India, South Africa and Colombia.

Source: CDC
Source: CDC

Bangladesh, Iraq and Iran round out the list; the only European country on the list is Russia, which at around 5,600 new cases a day, is still doing better than the U.S. 

The U.S. fares slightly better in death rate over the last seven days, ranking sixth among the dozen countries on the chart, but still accruing an average of 894 deaths per day (the U.S. mortality rate is worse if viewed since the start of the pandemic; then the U.S. moves to second place, behind Peru).

The U.S. has had more than 150,000 deaths due to the virus, the most of any nation in the world.

In the spring, the U.S. and a number of European countries were dealing with similar rates of cases and deaths as the virus pounded Italy, Spain and the United Kingdom. But Europe dramatically lowered the rate of infection and began opening back up, including allowing summer travel. U.S. residents, however, are still banned from most of the continent although they can visit Ireland and the United Kingdom if they observe a 14-day quarantine.

According to World Health Organization tracking published Tuesday, all of Europe had 26,311 new cases reported over the previous 24-hour period, less than half of the U.S.’s recent daily totals.

On Tuesday, German officials expressed concerns about a possible second wave due to 500 new cases per day being reported over the last two weeks, or less than one percent of the recent average U.S. total. Even when factoring in Germany’s smaller population — about one quarter of the U.S.’s 328 million — the per capita difference is vast.

Source: WHO
Source: WHO

“We don’t know yet if this is the beginning of a second wave but of course it could be,” said Lothar Wieler, head of Germany’s infectious disease agency, who attributed the rising number of cases to increased social contact at parties and the workplace and encouraged mask-wearing. “But I am optimistic that if we follow the hygiene rules we can prevent it, it’s up to us.”

On Monday, President Trump stated that while he encouraged social distancing he also wanted states to open up, even though experts attribute the country’s problems to too many states opening too soon. A poll by the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research released Sunday showed that just 32 percent of Americans approved of his handling of the pandemic

Monday evening Trump retweeted a video that was later removed from social media services which stated that there was a cure for COVID-19 and that masks were not effective. The president was asked about it during a briefing Tuesday.

“Mr. President, the woman that you said was a ‘great doctor’ in that video that you retweeted last night said that ‘masks don’t work’ and there is a cure for COVID-19, both of which health experts say is not true,” said CNN reporter Kaitlan Collins. “She’s also made videos saying that doctors make medicine using DNA from aliens and that they are trying to create a vaccine to make you immune from becoming religious—”

Trump cut her off, saying that he had seen the doctor on television and found her to be “very impressive.”

“I thought her voice was an important voice,” Trump said, “but I know nothing about her.” He then ended the briefing.

Jana Winter contributed reporting to this story.

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