The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

As global coronavirus cases surge past 1 million, nearly a quarter are in the U.S.

Americans make up a smaller percentage of global deaths

Signs in a bookstore window in Brunswick, Maine, encourage residents to stay home on April 2, the first day of Maine's mandatory stay-at-home order issued by Gov. Janet Mills (D) to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus. (Robert F. Bukaty/AP)
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More than 1 million people around the world have been infected with the novel coronavirus that emerged late last year, according to a tally compiled by Johns Hopkins University. The rapid spread of the disease in the United States has meant Americans now make up nearly 23 percent of the total, compared with a fraction of a percent a month ago.

There are all sorts of caveats that apply to these measures, including unreliable data from countries such as China and Iran (the former of which had been withholding data on asymptomatic cases) and constraints on the number of tests completed within the United States.

As recently as a few weeks ago, China made up the majority of recorded cases globally. Now, China’s reported cases make up only about 9 percent of global cases. China now reports fewer total cases than the state of New York alone. (The data below are through the end of Wednesday.)

As a percentage of the total, the number of cases in the United States now easily exceeds countries such as Iran and Italy, which were, for a period, seen as extreme examples of the spread of the virus.

At the end of Wednesday, the United States made up 22.9 percent of the global total of reported cases. On March 15, Americans represented 2 percent of the total.

There is not much good news in the pandemic, but one relative bit of good news is that the number of deaths in the United States is relatively lower than in other countries.

More than a quarter of the deaths reported globally have occurred in Italy, where deaths constitute nearly 12 percent of reported cases. In the United States, that figure is about 2 percent.

Again, this takes the Chinese and Iranian figures at face value. There are strong suggestions that both countries are underreporting their mortality figures, including satellite photos of mass graves in Iran and anecdotal reports about stacks of urns in the hardest-hit area of China.

It is also clear that the U.S. total probably does not include every death related to the coronavirus. Some jurisdictions have seen increases in pneumonia-related deaths which may be attributable to the disease caused by the virus, covid-19, but for which the deceased may not have been tested. That said, the number of deaths in the United States makes up about 10 percent of the global total, up from about 5 percent on March 26.

The number of deaths recorded each day from covid-19 in the United States is expected to peak in two weeks.

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