U.S. coronavirus deaths top 80,000, according to Johns Hopkins

There are more than 80,000 people who have died in the United States after contracting the novel coronavirus, according to the most recent data from the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center.

As of May 11, there were more than 1.3 million confirmed cases and over 216,000 recoveries from COVID-19 in the U.S. Across the world, there have been more than 284,000 deaths from the novel coronavirus, Johns Hopkins’ data shows.

The death milestone comes at a time when countries across the world are attempting to revitalize their economies and establish a sense of normalcy. In China, Shanghai Disneyland opened its doors to a controlled crowd of visitors with staff abiding by strict precautionary protocols. In other countries, lockdowns have been eased and some restrictions have been lifted, but nations are still struggling with how to safely encourage economic activity without contributing to or worsening the spread of the virus.

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Those same issues are apparent within the United States, the country with the highest number of confirmed at 1.3 million. For reference, Spain and the United Kingdom, the two other countries immediately following behind the U.S. in number of confirmed cases, have just over 224,000 each.

The number of U.S. coronavirus deaths also overshadows tallies held by other countries by a significant margin. According to Johns Hopkins, the U.S. COVID-19 death count more than doubles that of the United Kingdom (over 32,000) and Italy (over 30,000) as of May 11.

Since there is not a federal lockdown order in place, it has been up to local and state governments to determine how to best reopen their areas while in consideration of larger COVID-19 health risks. New York, for example, extended its stay-at-home order until May 15 with many businesses unlikely to open before the end of the month. 

In California, businesses that can operate using curbside pickup options — such as sporting good stores or bookshops — were allowed to reopen last week. Over in Georgia, Gov. Brian Kemp faced criticism over his government’s allowing of gyms, theaters and restaurants to reopen under certain restrictions, with spikes in COVID-19 cases occurring in late April. 

Within states, there has also been disagreement between leaders among how to best address the virus. For example, Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms supported the idea of having citizens wearing masks in public when social distancing was not possible, while Kemp reportedly did not support this proposal. 

On a national level, there has been concerns that advice from public health experts is going to waste. The Associated Press reported on how guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the leading U.S. public health agency, is being ignored. Similarly, the once daily press briefings held by the Coronavirus Task Force frequently featuring the advice and recommendations of experts Dr. Anthony Fauci and Dr. Deborah Birx are no longer a regular occurrence.

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Differences among officials and governments on how to best address the pandemic are compounded by the lack or unavailability of COVID-19 treatments. Remdesivir, an antiviral drug from Gilead Sciences, was recently granted approval by the Food and Drug Administration for emergency use in treating COVID-19, while the agency cautioned in April against the use of hydroxychloroquine or chloroquine outside hospital or lab settings. And health workers themselves are still expressing dismay over a lack of personal protective equipment across the country.

Even though some cities and states have made COVID-19 testing more available to their residents, the United States at large still faces challenges in regards to widespread testing initiatives. Optimistic projections of when and if a vaccine could be available have been between 12 to 18 months.