More than 9 million people around the world are confirmed to have COVID-19, according to the most recent data available from the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center.
As of June 22, there were more than 469,000 deaths and 4.4 million recoveries attributed to COVID-19 globally. In the United States alone, there were over 2.2 million confirmed cases, 120,000 deaths and 622,000 COVID-19 recoveries, according to Johns Hopkins’ data.
The milestone comes at a time when multiple states and countries are treading a slick tightrope between opening parts of their economies while attempting to prevent or worsen the further spread of the novel coronavirus.
Current data indicates that the world may be slipping in those attempts to quell the virus’ spread. On Sunday, the World Health Organization reported the single largest increase in COVID-19 cases within a single 24-hour time window.
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Experts said rising case counts can reflect multiple factors, including more widespread testing as well as broader infection.
A person can only be confirmed to have COVID-19 if they are tested, but a person still may have COVID-19 and never be tested, and would not be included in overall confirmed case numbers. For this reason, many health experts believe the true count of coronavirus cases and deaths is likely much higher than what is known.
As the pandemic has continued, different areas, states and countries have sprung up as new COVID-19 hotspots. Brazil recently surpassed the 1 million case threshold, trailing only the U.S. in total confirmed COVID-19 cases. In the United States, some have predicted that Florida may become the new epicenter of the U.S. coronavirus crisis.
Critics have slammed Brazil President Jair Bolsonaro over his loose policies regarding the virus, while Florida has been the object of ire over its early reopening, which may have contributed to the Sunshine State’s staggeringly high rise in new daily confirmed cases.
From May 23 to May 31, there was only one day in which confirmed COVID-19 cases surpassed 1,000 in Florida, according to the state’s health department. From June 14 to June 20, there were no days in which the daily confirmed case count was below 2,000.
As of June 22, the total number of confirmed cases in Florida was 100,000, surpassing the numbers reported by China and on par with the confirmed total of all of Canada, according to Johns Hopkins.
World Health Organization leaders issued a warning that the pandemic is becoming politicized.
“It took more than 2 months for the first 100,000 cases to be reported. For the past two weeks, more than 100,000 new cases have been reported almost every single day,” said Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director general of the WHO.
“Countries must continue with active surveillance to ensure the virus does not rebound, especially as mass gatherings of all kinds are starting to resume,” he said.
Scientists generally agree the nation is still in its first wave of coronavirus infections, albeit one that’s dipping in some parts of the country while rising in others.
“When you have 20,000-plus infections per day, how can you talk about a second wave?" said Dr. Anthony Fauci of the National Institutes of Health. “We’re in the first wave. Let’s get out of the first wave before you have a second wave.”
In the United States, President Donald Trump held a campaign rally over the weekend in Tulsa, Oklahoma, despite criticism from public health officials over a mass gathering of that size. Attendees were required to agree to a coronavirus liability waiver that absolved the president’s campaign of any legal responsibility should rally-goers fall ill.
At the rally, the president spoke about the country’s coronavirus testing efforts, saying that he had discouraged widespread testing in the U.S., which runs contrary to the urging of global health experts and those within his own administration. “When you do testing to that extent, you’re going to find more people, you’re going to find more cases,” Trump said. “So I said to my people, ‘Slow the testing down, please.’ They test and they test.”
The president has received extensive criticism for downplaying the threat of the virus and his handling of the pandemic over the past months.
There has also been concern that protests over racism and police brutality sparked by the death of George Floyd, an unarmed black man who died after Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes, will lead to a rise in coronavirus cases.
There are two vaccine candidates that have entered the large-scale efficacy testing phase, according to New York Times’ data. Dexamethasone, a steroid, has shown promising results in the United Kingdom in being an effective and affordable COVID-19 treatment for severely-ill patients, although experts in the U.S. are still awaiting further data on its efficacy, the Times reported.
Hydroxychloroquine, a drug repeatedly touted by the president as a potential COVID-19 treatment and one he even indicated he was using himself, had its emergency use authorization rescinded by the Food and Drug Administration. Remdesivir is still being explored in its ability to treat COVID-19 patients, manufacturer Gilead Sciences notes.
There is still no approved treatment for the novel coronavirus. To help prevent the spread of COVID-19, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that individuals:
-Wash their hands frequently
-Practice social distancing,
-Cover coughs and sneezes
-Regularly clean and disinfect frequently touched items and surfaces
-Wear a mask or facial covering while in public
The Associated Press contributed to this story.