America is gripped by a growing crisis
Coronavirus outbreaks in US states like Arizona, Florida and South Carolina have become the worst in the world in their own right, surpassing totals of new cases from entire nations.
A chart complied by the New York Times shows those three states, adjusted for population size and treated as if it were a countries, leading the world in new cases over the past seven days.
Aside from Middle Eastern nations, Bahrain, Qatar and Oman, the top 12 outbreaks in the world are from US states.
Bahrain, Qatar and Oman have seen cases spiral in recent days among large numbers of low-wage migrant workers who are not citizens. Those workers often live in cramped quarters, with subpar social services.
Other countries on the list - like Panama, Kazakhstan and Armenia - are substantially poorer than the US.
As a nation, the United States passed the milestone of three million confirmed cases overnight.
The first reported case of COVID-19 came on January 21. Within 99 days, 1 million Americans became infected. It took 43 days after that to reach 2 million cases. And 28 days later, the US reached 3 million cases.
More than 131,000 deaths have been reported, and on Tuesday the nation broke its record for most new cases reported in one day.
Health officials have said that because of inadequate testing and the many mild infections that have gone unreported, the real number is about 10 times higher, or almost 10 per cent of the US population.
Newly confirmed infections per day in the US are running at over 50,000, breaking records at practically every turn.
The virus is surging in several southern hot spots including Texas, Florida, Louisiana and Arizona, while it has almost entirely receded from its former epicentre in New York and the northeast.
Testing has been ramped up nationwide, reaching about 640,000 tests per day on average, up from around 518,000 two weeks ago. Newly confirmed infections per day are running at over 50,000, breaking records at practically every turn.
More testing tends to lead to more cases found. But in an alarming indicator, the percentage of tests coming back positive for the virus is on the rise across nearly the entire country, hitting almost 27 per cent in Arizona, 19 per cent in Florida and 17 per cent in South Carolina.
President Donald Trump meanwhile is determined to reopen America's schools amid the spiralling crisis, threatening to hold back federal money if school districts don't bring their students back in September.
"In Germany, Denmark, Norway, Sweden and many other countries, SCHOOLS ARE OPEN WITH NO PROBLEMS," he wrote on Twitter.
"The Dems think it would be bad for them politically if US schools open before the November Election, but is important for the children & families. May cut off funding if not open!"
He said that America was "in a good place" regarding the pandemic.
Vice President Mike Pence, who leads the White House coronavirus taskforce, defended the Government's response, saying cases were flattening out.
"While we mourn with those who mourn, because of what the American people have done, because of the extraordinary work of our healthcare workers around the country, we are encouraged that the average fatality rate continues to be low and steady," he told reporters overnight.
I disagree with @CDCgov on their very tough & expensive guidelines for opening schools. While they want them open, they are asking schools to do very impractical things. I will be meeting with them!!!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 8, 2020
Meanwhile, Mr Trump is still pushing ahead to formally withdraw the US from the World Health Organisation (WHO).
The President had made his intentions clear in late May, accusing the WHO of being under China's control in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.
The withdrawal is a "setback for global co-operation", all the more devastating at a time when international action is needed to fight the coronavirus pandemic, Germany says.
"The global infection trend shows us that more international co-operation is needed to fight the pandemic and not less co-operation," said a German Government spokeswoman.
The pandemic has killed at least 545,414 people worldwide since it surfaced in China late last year.
The United States is the hardest-hit country with 131,857 deaths. It is followed by Brazil with 66,741, Britain with 44,517, Italy with 34,914 and Mexico with 32,014 fatalities.
Originally published as America is gripped by a growing crisis