US COVID-19 cases rise to over 86,000, now the highest total in world

March 27, 2020

Confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus, COVID-19, has reached over 86,000 in the United States, giving it the most cases in the world which is now at 542,788. And Wednesday was the most active day so far in the country, with 14,042 new cases reported, and the national death toll reaching 1,069 fatalities.

The numbers came on day 10 of the White House's "15 days to slow the spread campaign," a nationwide effort at social distancing measures that has been implemented in a patchwork fashion across the 50 states. As of yesterday, 21 states had shelter-in-place or stay-at-home mandates that asked the non-essential workforce to remain at home for 14 to 30 days in an effort to slow the spread of the pandemic.

Certain hot spots are appearing to produce a hospitalization rate that was doubling every 2 to 3 days, namely in New York City and in parts of California. According to the Los Angeles Times, if that rate holds, California hospitals could see a surge in patients in 1 to 2 weeks, according to Mark Ghaly, MD, the state's secretary of Health and Human Services.

"We originally thought that it would be doubling every six to seven days; we see cases doubling every three to four days," Ghaly said during a press conference. "[We're] watching that trend very, very closely." To date there have been 3,318 cases reported in California, which was the first state to confirm community spread of the virus, in Santa Clara County.

Elsewhere, Detroit, New Orleans, and Atlanta all reported quickly filling intensive care units (ICUs) and a dearth of ventilators as those cities see more than 1,000 cases.

Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards said yesterday in a press conference he expects his state to be out of ventilators by the first week of April. Bel Edwards said his state needs an additional 600 machines. Over the past 24 hours, Louisiana recorded 510 more cases, raising the state's total to 2,305 cases, and 83 deaths. Most of the cases are in New Orleans. 

As of yesterday afternoon, New York state reported 37,258 cases, the most of any state in the country, an increase of more than 7,000 cases in 24 hours. Of those, 21,393 cases are in New York City. During his daily briefing, Cuomo said 5,327 people are currently hospitalized in the state for COVID-19, including 1,290 patients in ICUs.

In both the New York Times and the New York Post, doctors and nurses from some of the busiest hospitals in New York City shared how staff were fashioning protective gowns from garbage bags and allotting one mask per 12-hour shift as hospitals strain under the influx of patients.

Anthony Fauci, MD, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, warned that other states and cities in the country could look like New York City in the coming weeks. He said a surge of cases in Florida in recent days is telling, and the state may be on the same projection as New York. In the past day, Florida health officials tracked 400 more cases, raising the state's total to 2,355.

In other news, the rate of COVID-19 among active US military members has jumped by 60% in recent days, according to the Military Times, faster than the rate in civilians. The Department of Defense (DoD) said at least 280 active military members are infected, as well as 294 non-troops within the DoD.

New numbers show a record 3.3 million Americans filed for unemployment benefits last week, in the wake of many losing their jobs in light of COVID-19-fueled layoffs. In the previous week, 281,000 Americans had filed for unemployment. The Washington Post reports as many as 40 million Americans could lose their jobs in the coming months.

The news came as a $2 trillion stimulus bill was making its way to the House, where Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) promised quick passage of the bill.

Finally today, Politico reports that President Trump and staff have failed to follow a White House National Safety Council pandemic playbook, which urges using the national stockpile to supplement supplies of personal protective equipment for healthcare workers. The playbook was written in 2016, in the wake of the world's largest Ebola outbreak in West Africa.

CIDRAP has the story.

More COVID-19 coverage HERE.