The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in the United States surpassed China’s total for the first time on Thursday, The New York Times reports.
Though the virus began in China, which has the largest population in the world, the United States now has the most confirmed cases of any country with more than 81,000, including more than 1,000 deaths.
The Times pointed to the United States failing to take the pandemic seriously as it engulfed China and a “deeply flawed effort” to provide testing as reasons for the quick rise. A shortage of protective equipment has also left medical workers vulnerable.
“This could have been stopped by implementing testing and surveillance much earlier — for example, when the first imported cases were identified,” Columbia University virologist Angela Rasmussen told the outlet. “If these are the cases we’ve confirmed, how many cases are we still missing?”
China clamped down, US didn’t:
Epidemiologists say that the United States ignored the methodical approach China took to locking down cities with outbreaks and hunting down people who were infected.
In the United States, only patients with severe symptoms are being regularly tested.
“We are the new global epicenter of the disease,” Johns Hopkins infectious disease expert Dr. Sara Keller told The Times. “Now, all we can do is to slow the transmission as much as possible by hunkering down in our houses while, as a country, we ramp up production of personal protective equipment, materials needed for testing, and ventilators.”
Not enough equipment to go around:
Governors around the United States have pleaded for federal support in acquiring ventilators but the federal government has done little.
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said that FEMA sent him 400 ventilators before the White House agreed to send another 4,000.
"FEMA says, 'we're sending 400 ventilators,'" Cuomo said during a news briefing on Wednesday. "Really? What am I going to do with 400 ventilators when I need 30,000? … You pick the 26,000 people who are going to die."
Trump on Thursday dismissed the governor’s pleas.
"I have a feeling that a lot of the numbers that are being said in some areas are just bigger than they're going to be," he said. "I don't believe you need 40,000 or 30,000 ventilators. You go into major hospitals sometimes, and they'll have two ventilators. And now all of a sudden they're saying, 'Can we order 30,000 ventilators?'"
"I am getting along with Governor Cuomo," he added. "I think that a lot of things are being said that are more, I don't think certain things will materialize, a lot of equipment is being asked for but I don't think they'll need."