More than 500,000 people throughout the world have died of the new coronavirus, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. The staggering milestone comes as virus cases have surged in the U.S. in recent weeks, and as South America has emerged as a virus hotspot.
More than a quarter of the world's reported coronavirus deaths have occurred in the U.S., where 31 states have seen a jump in cases compared to two weeks ago. The number of new confirmed coronavirus cases nationwide hit a record high of 45,300 on Friday — a more than 5,000-case spike from the day before.
In Texas and Florida, governors are now rolling back reopening measures in an effort to stem the virus' spread. The intensive care units in some Texas hospitals are now 100% full, after the state broke hospitalization records for 15 days in a row.
Meanwhile, the Trump administration is insisting the virus is under control. At the first White House Coronavirus Task Force Briefing in nearly two months, Vice President Mike Pence said Friday that all 50 states are opening safely.
"We have made truly remarkable progress in moving our nation forward," he said.
Approximately 600 U.S. deaths are being attributed to the virus each day, a massive decrease from the mid-April peak of 2,000, according to The Associated Press. In total, more than 125,000 people have died from the virus in the U.S. — more than double the reported death toll of any other nation.
Coronavirus cases are also spiking in South America — most notably in Brazil, which has seen more than 1.2 million confirmed cases and more than 57,000 reported deaths, according to Johns Hopkins' data. One model predicts that Brazil will surpass the U.S. in coronavirus deaths in July.
Experts have warned that the death toll in Brazil could be far higher than what's been reported. Gimena Sánchez-Garzoli, the Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA)'s director of the Andes, told CBS News in mid-June that she wouldn't "trust" the Brazilian government's reported figures, and blamed President Jair Bolsonaro for an unwillingness to act and a lack of transparency.
Bolsonaro takes the "prize for the most disastrous combination of denial and lack of taking any measures," Sánchez-Garzoli said. The president has continued to resist a national lockdown, and has frequently compared the virus to the flu.
Brazil isn't alone: Peru, Chile, and Mexico have all reported more than 200,000 coronavirus cases. The situation has become so dire that the World Health Organization called South America the new epicenter of the global pandemic in late May.
Other countries have been more successful in containing the virus. In China, the pandemic's original epicenter, officials reported no new cases on May 23. Although there has since been a small second outbreak linked to another food market, the nation has ramped up testing and said the quick response will likely pay off.
In Europe, which was hard-hit by the virus in its early months, countries are cautiously beginning to reopen. In New Zealand, which is maintaining tight border restrictions, the virus appears to be largely eradicated.
In total, more than 9.9 million people have contracted the virus, according to Johns Hopkins data.
Audrey McNamara and Christopher Brito contributed reporting.
First published on June 28, 2020 / 5:11 PM
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