US becomes first country to cross 1 million COVID-19 cases, nearly a third of global infections

Death toll in US crossed 58,300, exceeding American fatalities in Vietnam War

US-Flag-hospital-ship-Reuters A person waves a United States flag as the USNS Comfort passes under the Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge as it enters New York Harbor during the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in New York City | Reuters

The number of people infected by the coronavirus pandemic in the US crossed the one million-mark on Tuesday, while the fatalities spiked to over 58,300, exceeding the number of American soldiers who lost their lives in the two-decade-long Vietnam War. According to the US National Archives, 58,220 American soldiers died in the Vietnam conflict, which began in 1955 and ended in 1975. 

The US became the first country in the world to have more than one million cases of coronavirus. It accounts for nearly one-third of the 3.1 million cases globally. With 58,355 deaths so far, the US also accounts for one-fourth of the over 213,000 global fatalities.

"We continue to pray for the victims as well as for those Americans who are grieving their lost ones and their loved ones. There's never been anything like this. We suffer with one heart but we will prevail. We are coming back, and we're coming back strong," US President Donald Trump said at the White House during his remarks on the Paycheck Protection Programme.

"Now that our experts believe the worst days of the pandemic are behind us, Americans are looking forward to the safe and rapid reopening of our country, he said.

"Throughout this ordeal, millions of hard-working Americans have been asked to really make tremendous, tremendous sacrifices. It is sacrifices like nobody thought would even be possible; nobody thought we would ever be talking about something like this," Trump said.

Meanwhile, several states have initiated the process to reopen their economies.  In California, Governor Gavin Newsom outlined the phased reopening of his state. "We are not going back to the way things were until we get to immunity or a vaccine. We will base reopening plans on facts and data, not on ideology. Not what we want. Not what we hope," he told reporters.

More than 1,800 people have died due to the coronavirus in California so far. Schools and colleges, he said, could start in July-August. California and Washington were among the first two states to impose stay-at-home order. Now more than 95 per cent of the country's 330 million population are under stay-at-home order.

Texas Governor Greg Abbott has also announced first phase reopening of the state. Tennessee on Monday allowed reopening of restaurants and later this week retail outlets could resume their businesses.

Pennsylvania has announced three-phase reopening of the state beginning May 3. States like South Carolina, Oregon, Oklahoma, Ohio, have announced phased reopening of their economies. The state of Utah on Tuesday announced relax restrictions and offered a mask to its residents.

In New York—the epicentre of the coronavirus outbreak in the US—non-essential businesses are ordered to stay closed till May 15. New York along with other states, including New Jersey, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Rhode Island and Massachusetts, have announced to coordinate reopening.

Responding to questions, Trump said the US has done more testing that any other country in the world.  "We're doing more testing than any other country in the world by far...So, we're going to show more cases because we're doing much, much more testing, double than anybody else," he said.

Trump said he relied on experts, who apparently went wrong on this. We were listening to experts and we always will listen to experts. But, the experts got it wrong. A lot of people got it wrong. And, a lot of people had no idea it would be this serious, he said.

I listened to experts. I'll tell you what. I did something that the experts thought I shouldn't have done. I closed down our country and our borders. I did a ban on China from coming in, other than US citizens, and we did very strong checks on even our US citizens, he asserted.

The United States, he said, is opening up again. I think it's going to be very, very successful. I think that third quarter, it's obviously a transition quarter, but I think it's going to be okay, maybe better than okay. Then I think fourth-quarter will the great and I think next year is going to be a tremendous year for this country, Trump said.