US death toll from coronavirus hits 100
At least 100 people have died from the coronavirus in the U.S., a grim milestone in what is likely to be just the beginning of an epidemic with no end in sight.
About half of those deaths are centered in Washington state, where an outbreak of cases in a nursing home led to rapid spread throughout the state.
In all, there are more than 6,200 cases of the coronavirus in the U.S., according to Johns Hopkins University.
President Trump told reporters Monday the epidemic could continue through the summer, or even longer.
The past few weeks have been marked by limits on public gatherings, closures of schools and businesses and pleading from public health officials that people stay home as much as possible.
Officials are racing to “flatten the curve” of the epidemic so the health care system isn’t overwhelmed by an avalanche of patients.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released new guidelines this week recommending people avoid gatherings of more than 10 people; avoid discretionary travel; avoid eating in bars, restaurants and food courts; and work or engage in schooling from home when possible.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said Tuesday it could take several weeks – and perhaps longer – to determine whether those steps are having an impact.
States and cities are also considering more drastic measures, such as issuing “shelter in place” restrictions that require people to stay in their homes, except for essential activities.
The first cases of the coronavirus were detected in the U.S. in January from travelers who had recently returned from China, where the outbreak began.
But within weeks the virus began spreading from person-to-person within the U.S. as public health workers and the Trump administration struggled to contain the disease.
It’s unclear how many Americans have the coronavirus because there is no widespread testing in the U.S.
While the Trump administration says it is trying to ramp up testing after a slow start, only 30,000 tests have been conducted so far by the CDC and public health labs.
Commercial labs, which have a larger testing capacity, started running tests earlier this month but it’s not clear how many have been completed.
As a result, experts think it is likely there are thousands of undetected cases of the coronavirus in the U.S.
A worst-case scenario model from the CDC suggests up to 210 million Americans could get the coronavirus.
The number of deaths under the CDC’s scenarios ranged from 200,000 to as many as 1.7 million.
However, the vast majority of people who get the coronavirus recover and only experience mild illness.
The elderly and people with underlying health conditions are at most risk for serious illness or death.
About 85 percent of people who have died from the coronavirus in the U.S. were older than 60, and about 45 percent were older than 80, according to an analysis by The Washington Post.
Younger adults with the coronavirus are most likely to show mild symptoms, or no symptoms at all, which is why public health experts urge them to stay at home if they are sick and to limit their social interactions to avoid spreading it to more vulnerable populations.
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