North America

US crosses a 'terrible threshold' as coronavirus death toll passes 100,000

The official coronavirus number of cases in the US has reached 4 million. Source: NYT

More US residents have now died from coronavirus than during the Korean War, Vietnam War and the US conflict in Iraq combined.

The coronavirus has now killed more than 100,000 people in the US, even as the slowdown in deaths encouraged businesses to reopen and Americans to emerge from more than two months of lockdowns.

About 1400 Americans have died on average each day in May, down from a peak of 2000 per day in April, according to the tally of state and county data on COVID-19 deaths.

In about three months, more Americans have died from COVID-19 than during the Korean War, Vietnam War and the US conflict in Iraq from 2003-2011 combined.

The new respiratory disease has also killed more people than the AIDS epidemic did from 1981 through 1989, and it is far deadlier than the seasonal flu has been in decades.

The last time the flu killed as many people in the United States was in the 1957-1958 season, when 116,000 died.

Former vice president and current presidential candidate Joe Biden responded to the grim milestone, taking aim at the Trump Administration's handling of the pandemic.

"It's made all the worse by knowing that this is a fateful milestone we should have never reached - that could have been avoided," he said.

"According to a study done by Colombia University, if the administration had acted just one week earlier to implement social distancing, and do what it had to do just one week sooner, as many as 36,000 of these deaths might have been averted."

National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease director Dr Anthony Fauci, who is leading the US response, described the past three months as a "very terrible ordeal". 

"We've taken a terrible hit, 100,000 people is really just historic in the public health impact it's had on us," he told PBS.

"Things will, I believe, improve as we start to see the diminution in cases in many areas, although disturbingly there are still some areas in which cases are going up.

Dr Anthony Fauci has been leading the US response to COVID-19.
Dr Anthony Fauci has been leading the US response to COVID-19.

Total US coronavirus cases are over 1.7 million with some southern states seeing new cases rising in the past week, according to a Reuters analysis of data from The COVID Tracking Project, a volunteer-run effort to track the outbreak.

Globally, coronavirus cases have topped 5.6 million with over 350,000 deaths since the outbreak began in China late last year and then arrived in Europe and the United States.

South America is now bearing the brunt of the outbreak, with Brazil having the second-highest number of cases in the world.

Of the top 20 most severely affected countries, the United States ranks eighth based on deaths per capita, according to a Reuters tally.

The United States has three fatalities per 10,000 people. Belgium is first with eight deaths per 10,000, followed by Spain, the United Kingdom and Italy, according to the Reuters analysis.

People in Australia must stay at least 1.5 metres away from others. Check your state’s restrictions on gathering limits.

Testing for coronavirus is now widely available across Australia. If you are experiencing cold or flu symptoms, arrange a test by calling your doctor or contact the Coronavirus Health Information Hotline on 1800 020 080.

The federal government's coronavirus tracing app COVIDSafe is available for download from your phone's app store.

SBS is committed to informing Australia’s diverse communities about the latest COVID-19 developments. News and information is available in 63 languages at

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