US Now Leads World in Covid-19 Cases

(CN) – The United States has surpassed China and Italy as the nation with the highest number of Covid-19 cases, according to health data released Thursday, and also recorded its highest single-day death toll since the novel coronavirus emerged.

More than 82,000 people in the U.S. have tested positive for Covid-19, and more than 1,100 people have died after contracting the novel virus, according to Johns Hopkins University’s data tracker and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Patients wear personal protective equipment while maintaining social distancing as they wait in line for a COVID-19 test at Elmhurst Hospital Center in New York. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)

In China, at least 81,700 people have been diagnosed with Covid-19. In Italy, more than 80,500 have contracted the virus and 8,200 have died – an astonishing 10% death rate.

Worldwide more than 526,000 people have contracted the virus and nearly 24,000 people have died amid what the World Health Organization has categorized as a global pandemic.

Health officials in the U.S. reported more than 200 deaths from coronavirus on Wednesday, the highest single-day figure the nation has recorded.

In an attempt to provide relief to struggling Americans and to soothe economic instability, the Senate approved a $2 trillion relief package for workers, businesses and health care systems. The House intends to vote on bill Friday and President Donald Trump said he will sign it soon after.

The package includes billions of dollars in loans for small businesses, unemployment benefits and one-time payments of $1,200 to single American adults earning less than $75,000, $2,400 for married couples earning up to $150,000 and payments of $500 per child.

Relief from lawmakers comes as 3.2 million Americans filed unemployment claims after the virus outbreak pushed states and municipalities to shut down nonessential businesses, close schools and curb outdoor activity.

The record number of claims is nearly five times the previous benchmark set during the 1982 recession.

A national survey of Americans found that 88% believe the Covid-19 outbreak is a major threat to the economy while 66% said the pandemic threatens the collective health of the nation, according to Pew Research Center data released Thursday.

In California, where nearly 4,000 people have tested positive for the novel virus, Governor Gavin Newsom announced banks and credit unions have agreed to a 90-day mortgage payment grace period for struggling homeowners.

“Millions of California families will be able to take a sigh of relief,” Newsom said in a statement Wednesday. “These new financial protections will provide relief to California families and serve as a model for the rest of the nation.”

The agreement also includes a 60-day moratorium on foreclosure sales or evictions in the Golden State.

U.S. Navy hospital ships will also provide critical support to hospitals in California and New York that lack the intensive care beds officials expect will be needed as the outbreak worsens.

In Los Angeles County – where the 1,000-bed U.S. Navy hospital ship Mercy will arrive Friday – public health officials announced 421 new coronavirus cases, a large surge that brings the county’s total to 1,216.

LA County Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer told reporters Thursday nine additional deaths from Covid-19 raise the county’s total to 21.

The county’s 21 deaths does not include a 17-year-old from Lancaster who was reported this week to have died from the coronavirus but later removed from the county’s tally after health officials said an investigation by the CDC is pending.

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