US becomes first country to record 100,000 coronavirus deaths

27 May 2020, 23:33 | Updated: 27 May 2020, 23:43

Over 100,000 people have now died from coronavirus in the US
Over 100,000 people have now died from coronavirus in the US. Picture: PA

By Megan White

The United States has become the first country in the world to record 100,000 coronavirus deaths, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.

The country's death toll became the highest in the world in early April, surpassing that of the UK and Italy.

Fatalities have more than doubled in last month, hitting 50,000 deaths on 24 April.

The US saw its first Covid-19-related death on February 6, reaching 100 on March 17, before escalating to an average of almost 900 deaths a day since then.

President Donald Trump initially said "50 to 60,000" people could die during the outbreak, but later said he hoped the toll would be lower than 100,000.

Mr Trump likened the coronavirus several months ago to the flu and dismissed worries that it could lead to so many deaths.

But the administration's leading scientists have since warned that as many as 240,000 Americans could die in the country's outbreak.

The news comes as only half of Americans said they would be willing to get vaccinated if scientists are successful in developing a vaccine, according to a new poll from The Associated Press-NORC Centre for Public Affairs Research.

According to the AP-NORC poll, about half of Americans said they would get a Covid-19 vaccine if scientists working to create one succeed.

The poll found 31 per cent simply were not sure if they would get vaccinated.

Another one in five said they would refuse. Among Americans who say they would not get vaccinated, seven in 10 worry about safety.

Josh Michaud, associate director of global health policy with the Kaiser Family Foundation in Washington, said: "It is a grim milestone. It's a striking reminder of how dangerous this virus can be."

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Dr Anthony Fauci, the nation's top infectious disease expert, issued a stern warning after viewing video showing Memorial Day crowds gathered at a pool party in Missouri.

He said: "We have situation in which you see that type of crowding with no mask and people interacting. That's not prudent and that's inviting a situation that could get out of control. Don't start leapfrogging some of the recommendations in the guidelines because that's really tempting fate and asking for trouble."

After months of lockdowns in countries around the world, places have begun reopening in stages.

Nevada governor Steve Sisolak announced he will allow casinos to reopen on June 4, welcoming tourists to return to the glitzy gambling mecca of Las Vegas.

The Democratic governor told reporters that Nevada will welcome visitors from across the country to come to Las Vegas and have a good time.

Mr Sisolak closed the casinos 10 weeks ago as part of a broad shutdown to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

The casinos typically draw millions of tourists to Las Vegas and power the state's economy. The governor said he would also allow in-person religious services of up to 50 people starting on Friday.

Churches began opening up. And people restless at being cooped up indoors for weeks have started venturing outside in droves, often without practising safe social distancing or wearing protective coverings.

Public health experts have warned that more deaths could be expected as we are "still probably only in the early stages" of the pandemic.

Josh Michaud, associate director of global health policy with the Kaiser Family Foundation in Washington, said: "Despite the terrible losses seen and the many difficulties Americans have faced to date in this pandemic, we're still probably only in the early stages.

"In the US we could be looking at a long pandemic summer with a slow burn of cases and deaths. There's also reason to be concerned about a new wave of infections in the fall. So, we're definitely not out of the woods yet."

Elsewhere, South Korea announced a spike in new infections and considered reimposing social distancing restrictions, revealing the setbacks ahead for other nations on the road to reopening.

It reported 40 newly-confirmed cases - the biggest daily jump in nearly 50 days.

All but four of the cases were in the densely populated Seoul region, where officials are scrambling to stop transmissions linked to nightclubs, karaoke rooms and a massive e-commerce warehouse.

All were reopened last month when social distancing measures were relaxed.

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