The US has reported more than 101,000 coronavirus cases. Italy isn't far behind, with at least 86,000 cases; China has reported just under 82,000.
But the COVID-19 death rate — the number of deaths divided by the total number of cases — from these three hard-hit countries varies wildly.
The US's coronavirus death rate is currently 1.6%, which puts it among the lowest of any country with more than 9,000 cases. Italy's, by contrast, is 10.6% and China's is 4%.
The US has reported at least 1,500 deaths, Italy has reported more than 9,100, and China has nearly 3,300 as of Friday afternoon.
Countries' death rates change over time More than 593,000 people worldwide have been infected with the coronavirus, and at least 27,000 have died.
Because countries' case totals and death tolls are constantly changing, their death rates are not static — nor is the global rate. Instead, the rates fluctuate constantly as new cases and deaths get reported. They also depend on how many people get tested for COVID-19 (people whose cases aren't confirmed don't get included in the official case counts).
On Monday, for example, the US's death rate was 1.2% and Italy's was 9.5%. Both are now higher.
A recent study (which has yet to be peer-reviewed) from a group of Chinese researchers suggested the rate could be lower there than the country's numbers reflect: Researchers found that the probability of a person dying after developing symptoms was about 1.4% in Wuhan, China.
A shifting global death rate As of Friday, the global coronavirus death rate hovered around 4.6%, according to data from Johns Hopkins — that's higher than the World Health Organization's March 3 estimate of about 3.4%.
Some health experts have predicted that death rates overall will decrease as the number of cases rises and testing expands. The US's experience offers some evidence of that: Between March 6 and 27, the country's death rate dropped from 5.9% to 1.6%; the number of people tested in the US jumped to more than 626,000 from fewer than 2,000 over that time period.
Widespread testing could mean a lower death rate because most COVID-19 cases — about 80%, according to one study — are considered mild. Often, the cases tested and reported first are those with severe symptoms, since those people go to the hospital. Milder cases, on the other hand, could go uncounted or get reported later on, so the true number of infected people is likely much higher than the reported total.
The death rate of a disease is different from its mortality rate — the latter is the number of deaths out of the number of people in an at-risk population. A death rate is not a reflection of the likelihood that a given person will die.
The White House approved Michigan’s request for an emergency declaration Saturday, after a week of contentious public feuding between President Donald Trump and the state's governor over measures to combat the coronavirus.
The squabble between Trump and Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, which has played out across Twitter, cable news and radio airwaves, has been one of several conflicts simmering between Trump and governors who have criticized the federal response to the pandemic — and then seen Trump return fire online or in his press briefings.
Governors across the country, including Whitmer, have repeatedly called on Trump to use the Defense Production Act to force private companies to manufacture life-saving medical supplies, including protective hospital masks and ventilators. Governors have also clashed with Trump about state-imposed lock-downs and travel bans.
Whitmer — a first-term governor who in February delivered the Democrats' response to Trump's State of the Union address — charged in an interview Friday morning that Trump’s actions have prevented her state from getting the equipment it needs.
“What I’ve gotten back is that vendors with whom we’ve procured contracts — they’re being told not to send stuff to Michigan,” Whitmer told Detroit’s WWJ 950. “It’s really concerning. I reached out to the White House last night and asked for a phone call with the president, ironically at the time this stuff was going on.”
Trump first invoked the DPA later Friday following escalating public criticism of General Motors, after the White House and company failed to reach a deal to build ventilators.
Watch live coverage as President Trump and the coronavirus task force give an update on the response effort from the White House.
On a special edition of Meet the Press, White House Coronavirus Response Coordinator Dr. Deborah Birx said it is important to react quickly because no state or metro area will be spared from this virus. Gov. John Bel Edwards (D-La.) and Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D-Mich.) discuss the difficulties their states face as cases rise exponentially. Former VP Joe Biden explains how he would handle this crisis if he were president. Andrea Mitchell, Eugene Robinson, Hugh Hewitt and Carol Lee join the panel.
Abandoning his hope that the country could end its lockdown restrictions by Easter, which will be celebrated in two weeks, President Trump said on Sunday that intensive measures to combat the coronavirus pandemic would continue until the end of April.
“The modeling estimates that the peak in death rate is likely to hit in two weeks,” Trump said, referencing epidemiological models of how the disease will spread across the United States. “Therefore, we will be extending our guidelines to April 30, to slow the spread.”
The president added that on Tuesday, his administration would make public “a summary of our findings, supporting data and strategy” regarding the ongoing battle against the disease.
Trump announced the new policy at the daily coronavirus task force briefing, which was held in the Rose Garden on what turned out to be a pleasant spring evening in the nation’s capital. “Nothing would be worse than declaring victory before the victory is won,” Trump said. As recently as last week, he signalled his impatience with the 15 Days to Slow the Spread guidelines that had been recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Those guidelines call for Americans to work from home and avoid social situations, as well as unnecessary travel. While public health officials believe it is necessary to keep such measures in place for the next two or three months, some of the president’s advisers — and the president himself — worry about the economic effects of 328 million people living in lockdown.
In an interview with Fox News last week, Trump worried that the coronavirus response could be more harmful than the coronavirus itself, which has so far killed about 2,000 Americans. “I would love to have the country opened up and just raring to go by Easter,” he said.