The world is grappling with the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19), caused by a novel coronavirus called SARS-CoV-2. In most countries across the globe, the virus is spreading rapidly, sparking panic.
Now, the New York Times reports there may be 1.7 million Americans who will contract the disease if its spread is not contained. The virus has now touched all continents except Antarctica, which prompted the World Health Organization (WHO) to declared the outbreak as a global pandemic.
The U.S. coronavirus situation
In the United States, the number of cases has reached more than 4,400 confirmed cases and 78 deaths. As COVID-19 continues to spread across the U.S., experts are now investigating what factors increase a person's risk of contracting and dying from the virus.
Evidence has shown that those who are more than 60 years old are at a heightened risk of severe COVID-19. Those who have underlying medical conditions, like heart disease, lung disease, diabetes, and hypertension are also at risk of dying from the infection.
Based on the data by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the teams who analyzed how the virus can impact the country, have found that anywhere from 200,000 to 1.7 million people in the country could die from the virus.
Further, about 2.4 million to 21 million people may require hospitalization, which will strain the country's 925,000 staffed hospital beds that are currently available nationwide. Less than 10 percent of that number is allocated for critically ill patients.
The projections were based on estimates of the virus's transmission rates, and how severe the disease can be. The fatality rate of COVID-19 ranges between 2 to 3 percent, but in the United States, it has a death rate of nearly 2 percent. In comparison, Italy has a fatality rate of 7.3 percent and the Philippines with 8.4 percent, the highest rate worldwide.
The U.S. has imposed a travel ban on European travelers coming to the U.S. for the next month. The country's epicenter is still Washington D.C., with a high rate of community spread. Meanwhile, New York has been reporting an increase in infections, too.
Novel Coronavirus SARS-CoV-2: This scanning electron microscope image shows SARS-CoV-2 (round gold objects) emerging from the surface of cells cultured in the lab. SARS-CoV-2, also known as 2019-nCoV, is the virus that causes COVID-19. The virus shown was isolated from a patient in the U.S. Credit: NIAID-RML
Most countries have closed their borders to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus. The CDC recommended that gatherings should be banned, especially those with more than 50 people for the next eight weeks. All large public gatherings are prohibited, including parades, concerts, festivals, sporting events, conferences, weddings, and other assemblies.
"Large events and mass gatherings can contribute to the spread of COVID-19 in the United States via travelers who attend these events and introduce the virus to new communities," the CDC said.
Further, it urges all organizers to cancel or postpone their events across the country but does not apply to some institutions such as businesses and schools.
Various parts of the U.S. see different levels of COVID-19 activity. The states where community spread and local transmission are happening are in the acceleration phase, while at the national level, the country is in the initiation phase.
"More cases of COVID-19 are likely to be identified in the United States in the coming days, including more instances of community spread. CDC expects that widespread transmission of COVID-19 in the United States will occur. In the coming months, most of the U.S. population will be exposed to this virus," the CDC said.
Across the globe, there are 181,377 confirmed cases and 7,119 deaths at the time of writing. Europe is now the epicenter of the COVID-19 outbreak, with Italy reporting the most number of cases outside mainland China, with 27,980 confirmed cases and 2,158 deaths.
Meanwhile, life in China is slowly returning to normal as cases have decreased significantly.