The coronavirus death toll in the United States has exceeded 200,000, according to data from Johns Hopkins University (JHU).
More than 6.8 million people are known to have been infected in the United States, more than in any other country.
The milestone comes amid an increase in cases in a number of states, including North Dakota and Utah.
In March, President Donald Trump said that if the deaths were between 100,000 and 200,000, the country would have done a “very good job.”
The previous month, when 15 cases had been reported in the country, he had predicted the number would be “close to zero” within days.
JHU announced the new death toll of 200,005 on Tuesday. The university has been collecting U.S. and global data on coronaviruses since the outbreak began late last year in China. The first case in the United States was confirmed in January.
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President Trump’s administration has been criticized several times for its handling of the epidemic.
“Because of Donald Trump’s lies and incompetence over the past six months, [we] have suffered one of the greatest losses in American life, ”Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden said on Monday.
“With this crisis, a real crisis, a crisis that required serious presidential leadership, he was just not up to the task. He froze. He did not act. He panicked. And America paid the worst price of any country in the world. . ”
But on the same day, Mr Trump said he and his administration had done “a phenomenal job” and given themselves an “A +” for their handling of the pandemic.
He said the United States was “turning the corner on the pandemic, with or without a vaccine.”
What is the current situation in the United States?
North Dakota has seen a sharp increase in coronavirus cases in recent weeks. Officials say there were more than 3,200 active cases in the state as of Monday, while 87 people are in hospital.
The state ranks first in the country for the number of cases per capita over the past two weeks, according to data cited by the Associated Press news agency.
Cases are also increasing in states like Utah, Texas and South Dakota. On Tuesday, Wisconsin extended a public health emergency order for the third time since July 30.
There is growing concern that infections will continue to increase during the winter months.
US infectious disease expert Anthony Fauci warned earlier this month that Americans should “calm down” for fall and winter.
On Monday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) removed guidelines on airborne transmission of the coronavirus that had been updated on Friday.
In the now-deleted advisory, the CDC said the virus could be spread via particles that remain in the air and advised the use of indoor air purifiers.
The CDC said it was a “draft version of the proposed changes” and was “posted in error.”
The CDC is a respected agency providing public health advice in the United States. Many other countries are also looking to the CDC for advice. So when he updated his coronavirus advice last week to say the coronavirus was airborne – meaning it spreads through tiny droplets that linger in the air – he there was a surprise.
The World Health Organization (WHO) said it knew of no new evidence to suggest that this is how the virus is spread. The CDC later retracted this guidance saying that a “draft version” had been published in error.
The WHO says the evidence for aerosol transmission is not strong and that the main route is person-to-person spread through larger respiratory droplets from coughing and sneezing. But he recognizes that in congested confined spaces with inadequate ventilation, aerosol transmission could occur.
In the latest guidelines posted on its website, the CDC advised against cheating during Halloween, one of America’s most beloved celebrations.
The agency also recommended avoiding fancy dress parties or going to an indoor haunted house.
The CDC said Americans should carve pumpkins or decorate their homes with a spooky theme instead.
How has Trump responded to the epidemic?
The United States announced its first confirmed case of the coronavirus on January 21. A day later, Mr. Trump said the situation was “totally under control”.
But cases quickly started to rise and by April the United States was at the epicenter of the pandemic, overtaking the number of cases in China, where the virus started, and Italy, the hardest-hit European country. at that time.
New York was the hardest hit area at the start of the outbreak, at one point reporting more confirmed coronavirus cases than any other country outside of the United States. This has put unprecedented pressure on emergency responders and frontline staff.
While cases subsequently declined in New York City, they increased in other parts of the country.
Mr Trump told voters earlier this month that his action at the start of the epidemic was “very strong.”
He cited a ban on foreign travelers who were recently in China, which took effect in early February, and a ban on travelers from European countries the following month as proof of his efforts.
“We would have lost thousands more people if I hadn’t put the ban on. We saved a lot of lives by doing this, ”he said.
But Mr Trump has been accused of being slow to implement measures to reduce the virus.
In a statement last week, the American magazine Scientific American said that despite the warnings in January and February, the American president “has not developed a national strategy to provide protective equipment, coronavirus tests or health guidelines clear ”.
Mr. Trump has given mixed messages about his own handling of the pandemic.
He told reporter Bob Woodward in February that the virus was “a deadly substance,” but said the following month he downplayed its severity to avoid panic. “I always wanted to minimize it. I always like to play it down, because I don’t want to cause panic, ”he told the reporter.
Speaking to voters this month, he denied doing this, saying he had in fact “improved” it.
Mr. Trump has also given conflicting advice on face masks, on the one hand denigrating them as unhealthy, and on the other hand calling on Americans to “be patriotic” by wearing them.
He gave messages about vaccines that are at odds with the CDC. He recently said Americans would be able to access a vaccine as early as next month, while CDC director Robert Redfield said a vaccine likely wouldn’t be widely available until mid-2021.