Health

Coronavirus-battered US turns to new president on 1-year anniversary

Miami, Jan 20 (efe-epa).- The United States on Wednesday marked one year since the first coronavirus case was confirmed in its territory, a 12-month period in which the country led the world in both confirmed cases and deaths attributed to Covid-19.

That grim anniversary coincided with the swearing-in of newly inaugurated President Joe Biden, who has vowed to halt the advance of the pandemic.

He takes office at a moment in which nearly 25 million people in the US (more than 7 percent of the population) are confirmed to have contracted the disease and more than 412,000 deaths have been registered as Covid-19 fatalities, according to the latest tally by Maryland’s Johns Hopkins University.

The number of confirmed cases in the US is more than double that of India, which is second on the global list with just over 10.6 million; Brazil has the second-highest number of Covid-19 deaths, with a total of nearly 212,000 to date.

The first coronavirus case in the US was officially confirmed exactly one year ago, although the news of that infection did not receive widespread media coverage until Jan. 21, 2020.

The patient was a 35-year-old man from the northwestern state of Washington who had traveled to Wuhan, China, the origination point of the virus whose international case load and death toll stands at nearly 97 million and more than 2 million, respectively, according to Johns Hopkins.

That man was the first person in the US to undergo a coronavirus test in the US and receive a positive result.

The first coronavirus case in the US unrelated to international travel was confirmed in late February 2020, while the first case of the so-called British strain of the virus was detected in late December in the western state of Colorado.

Biden, who has promised to make fighting the coronavirus his top priority, unveiled a plan to tackle the disease six days prior to his inauguration.

That plan is centered on expediting a mass vaccination campaign but also will include efforts to step up preventive measures.

Prior to the swearing-in ceremony, Biden, his wife Jill, incoming Vice President Kamala Harris and her husband Doug Emhoff took part in a vigil in Washington in honor of Americans who have died of Covid-19. Similar ceremonies were held in other US cities.

“To heal we must remember. It’s hard sometimes to remember, but that’s how we heal. It’s important to do that as a nation,” Biden said hours after the official US death toll from the coronavirus surpassed 400,000.

Biden’s predecessor, Donald Trump, received a great deal of criticism from the scientific community for his administration’s response to the pandemic, while his political detractors blamed him for the high number of cases and deaths.

New York, once the global epicenter of the pandemic, is the US state with most deaths blamed on Covid-19 (41,368), while California has had the most confirmed cases (3.05 million) and the second-most deaths (34,072).

Other high-population states such Texas, Florida, Illinois, Pennsylavania, Michigan, Massachusetts and Georgia also are unsurprisingly among the US leaders in coronavirus cases and deaths.

Trump, who unlike Biden made it a point not to wear a mask in public, in early October became one of the millions of people nationwide to test positive for the coronavirus.

After undergoing an experimental antibody treatment and recovering from the illness at the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center outside Washington, Trump was criticized for telling people not to allow the disease to “dominate your lives.”

More than 200,000 deaths had been attributed to Covid-19 at the time of those remarks.

That number is now more than 400,000 and is expected to climb to over 560,000 on May 1, according to projections from the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation. EFE-EPA

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