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Tuesday, August 03, 2021

Explained: How United States has responded to the coronavirus pandemic

US Coronavirus Cases: Like other parts of the world, businesses in the US have resumed with fewer employees and customers, social distancing measures, and guidelines mandating the use of face masks.

Written by Leela Murali | New Delhi |
Updated: May 18, 2020 12:22:22 pm
An American flag flies outside the Department of Justice in Washington. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

US Coronavirus: The United States is the worst hit by the coronavirus pandemic, with over 1.4 million cases and 87,000 deaths. This week, over two-thirds of the country’s 50 states began easing restrictions and lifting lockdown measures to restart the economy. Like other parts of the world, businesses have resumed with fewer employees and customers, social distancing measures, and guidelines mandating the use of face masks.

The US finds itself in a precarious position with record layoffs taking the unemployment level in the country to the highest since the Great Depression in the 1930s. In April, the unemployment rate touched a historic 14.7 per cent, with some 20.5 million people abruptly losing their jobs.

According to the latest figures, over 36 million people filed for unemployment benefits in the last eight weeks.

Meanwhile, House Democrats passed a $3 trillion economic package on Friday to mitigate the economic impact of the pandemic. The 1,800-page legislation, which disburses funds to both state and local governments, and directly to Americans, is the largest relief package in US history.

A map of coronavirus cases in the US. (Source:

New York: One in every 55 people Covid positive

The epicentre of the US’ coronavirus outbreak is New York, a cosmopolitan city of nearly eight million. So far, the city has reported over 350,000 cases, which translates to about one case per 55 people, and over 27,000 deaths.

New York was hit hard by the coronavirus outbreak due to a combination of factors. To begin with, it hosts one of the busiest international airports in the world. Data shows that in 2018, the John F Kennedy International Airport handled 61 million passengers and 90 airline companies from across the globe. Not just tourists and residents, the airport is also a major transit hub, acting as the largest gateway into North America.

Coronavirus in the US: People walk by ambulances parked outside NewYork–Presbyterian Brooklyn Methodist Hospital, Wednesday, May 6, 2020 in New York during the coronavirus pandemic. (AP Photo: Mark Lennihan)

It is likely that Covid-19 reached New York two-three weeks faster than it did anywhere else in the country, due to which its numbers are higher. The transmission is also likely to have happened at a faster pace given New York is the largest metropolitan area in the world, and the among the most populous.

New York City has been known for its racial and economic disparities, especially given its high immigrant population. Black and Latinos make up about half the city’s population, and are more likely to be affected by the virus than their white or Asian counterparts.

Further, the response to Covid-19 played a big role with Governor Andrew Cuomo acting slower than other states to impose restrictions on the public. Now, New York is in lockdown till the May 28.

How has Donald Trump responded to Covid-19?

US President Donald Trump’s response to the pandemic, a sort of roller coaster, has evolved from being dismissive to combative. In January, Trump was quick to brush aside questions on the coronavirus, telling reporters “we have it totally under control”. The following month, Trump claimed the US “had tremendous success” in its fight against Covid-19, and that the country was “totally prepared”.

Skip to March, when Trump said the US was engaged in “the most aggressive and the most comprehensive effort to confront a foreign virus in modern history”, or when he claimed: “I felt it was a pandemic long before it was called a pandemic”.

In April, Trump said he could “see light at the end of the tunnel”, and that “soon, (the US) will be over that curve, we will be over that top, we will be headed in the right direction”.

On May 6, he commented, “This is the worst attack we have ever had, this is worse that Pearl Harbour attack, worse than the World Trade Center, there has never been an attack like this. It could have been stopped at the source it could have been stopped in China.” (Here are Trump’s top 10 quotes in response to the pandemic)

Coronavirus in the US: US President Donald Trump holds a press conference in the White House. (File Photo)

US and China ties fall to new low amid Covid-19

The US and China have found themselves caught in another war of words over the outbreak of the disease. The Trump administration has repeatedly claimed the virus originated from a Wuhan lab, threatened to disrupt bilateral ties with Beijing, and accused Xi Jinping of failing to contain the disease.

It’s a bit more complicated than Trump’s offhand remarks, given criticism from some quarters of the nexus between China and the World Health Organization (WHO). The WHO has come under fire for its handling of the crisis, delayed response and praise for China.

China, on its part, has invited researchers to study the origins of the virus. The country was also quick to announce monetary assistance to the WHO after Trump halted funding saying the organisation “missed the call” on the pandemic.

This political blamegame itself has drawn criticism for taking away from scientific investigation into the virus.

Can the US sue China for coronavirus-related damages?

The US state of Missouri has filed a lawsuit against China seeking to claim damages for the loss of life, human suffering and economic losses due to Covid-19. However, countries are protected from being sued in US courts by the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act (FSIA). Missouri will likely find it difficult to prove its claims against China.

Meanwhile, Trump’s daily briefings — he was among the few leaders who continued to hold press conferences despite the pandemic — have been no less of a spectacle. Not only has he got into several arguments with reporters, Trump has also use the platform to advocate several untested drugs for Covid-19. He touted Hydroxychloroquine (HCL) as a “game changer” despite no evidence of its success to cure the disease.

Trump even suggested injecting disinfectants to cure Covid-19, a claim that led to a chorus of warnings from health professionals. Trump was also among the first few who publicly suggested the virus could disappear in the summer.

While there is no evidence yet to prove either of these theories, the US is working on at least 10 projects to develop a solution to the coronavirus. Trump recently said at least 10 drugs were in the clinical trial stage.

coronavirus, covid 19, coronavirus artworks, coronavirus graffiti corona artwork, street art covid 19 awareness, street art with masks coronavirus, masks graffiti, indian express A local mural of George Washington takes on new meaning as it has been covered with a mask as the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) continues in Washington. (Reuters Photo)

Another thing Trump probably has in mind is the upcoming US Presidential Elections, slated to held on November 3. While it’s anyone’s guess as to whether the election will be postponed — it never has been in the history of the US — the nomination process has already seen several setbacks with at least 15 states delaying their presidential primaries due to Covid-19. Either ways, any rescheduling of the elections would legally require Congress approval.

The US and India work together to beat ‘the invisible enemy’

India and the US have, so far, been working together to fight the pandemic. Most recently, Trump said he would donate ventilators to India.

Prior to this, India had chosen US among the first countries to which it would export hydroxychloroquine. Indian-American scientists and researchers had also found praise during one of Trump’s press conferences.

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