On Thursday, the United States passed an unfortunate milestone in the global fight against the novel coronavirus: in confirmed cases, the world leader.
On Thursday afternoon, around 3 p.m. PT, USA, 82,404 confirmed cases of coronavirus in China's 81,782, according to a popular COVID-19 tracking tool from Johns Hopkins. Italy, which has been viewed as the world's emerging hotspot in recent weeks, dropped to third place with 80,589 cases.
As the US scientific community has warned for some time, fewer cases do not necessarily mean that there is no cause for concern. Widespread testing is one of the most effective ways to curb an early epidemic, but it can also result in an increase in numbers compared to countries with fewer tests. Without complete population-wide tests, the case numbers are only the sample of a particular population that has been tested and do not provide a complete picture of the situation on the ground.
In some parts of the United States, testing is far from easy to get. At a Queens hospital this week, potential COVID-19 sufferers Waited hours tested and many were rejected after waiting. As the cases in New York remain dangerous, the United States also reported 1,000 coronavirus deaths on Thursday.
While the country's most affected areas are still struggling to accommodate an alarming influx of COVID-19 patients, testing is becoming more widely available. Test availability increased dramatically last week after a fiddly federal response caused a delay in the delivery of tests to healthcare providers – a critical factor in the explosion of coronavirus cases the US is dealing with today.