The US has surpassed the "sad milestone" of over one lakh coronavirus-linked deaths, the highest in the world, President Donald Trump acknowledged on Thursday, four months after he said the situation was "totally under control" and assured the nation that it was "going to be just fine".
"We have just reached a very sad milestone with the coronavirus pandemic deaths reaching 100,000," Trump tweeted, hours after the country registered the grim figure in an election year.
"To all of the families & friends of those who have passed, I want to extend my heartfelt sympathy & love for everything that these great people stood for & represent. God be with you!" the president wrote.
“We have it totally under control,” Trump said on CNBC on January 22. “It’s one person coming in from China, and we have it under control. It’s going to be just fine.”
Trump initially said "50 to 60,000" people could die during the outbreak but this month the president said he was hopeful the toll would be lower than 100,000. That grim benchmark has now been hit though and there are still about 1,000 deaths a day on average in the US.
The wave of deaths, one-third of which has come from the world's financial capital of New York and neighbouring New Jersey and Connecticut, has had a devastating impact on American economy which has now gone into recession with an unprecedented over 35 million losing their jobs in the last three months.
However, a silver lining is the rate of both deaths and new cases have been registering a decline, a development that has encouraged almost all of the 50 States to announce plans to reopen their economies.
As the US reached the painful milestone of 100,000 coronavirus-related deaths on Wednesday, that figure represents, approximately, the death toll from the 9/11 terror attacks multiplied by 33, NBC News noted.
"Mothers, fathers, daughters, sons, sisters, brothers, aunts, uncles, cousins, friends, neighbours, colleagues, strangers in our own towns and cities and states — 100,000 people gone, leaving unfathomable grief and confusion and anger in their wake," it said in a report.
The US has seen more fatalities than any other country, while its 1.69 million confirmed infections account for about 30 per cent of the worldwide total.
The first US infection was reported in Washington state on January 21.
Globally there have been 5.6 million people recorded as infected and 354,983 deaths since the virus emerged in the central Chinese city of Wuhan late last year.
The US death toll stands at 100,276, according to Johns Hopkins University, which has been tracking the pandemic.
"With the 100,000th recorded American death due to COVID-19, our nation marks a sombre milestone. All across the country, families are mourning loved-ones lost to this disease," House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer said.
"It is difficult to comprehend the scope of this tragedy, and each of these 100,000 Americans is a parent, grandparent, sibling, child, and valued community member," he said after the country crossed the grim milestone in an election year.
The New York Times said that the death toll exceeds the number of US military combat fatalities in every conflict since the Korean War.
It matches the toll in the US of the 1968 flu pandemic, and it is approaching the 116,000 killed in another flu outbreak a decade before that, it said.
According to the US Center for Disease Control and Prevention, the coronavirus has impacted all age groups and communities in the US. Asian Americans accounts for 4.7 per cent of the total coronavirus cases and Black Americans 26.3 per cent.
There is no official record for deaths of Indian-Americans or those who got infected. But some unofficial estimates put the number of deaths among Indian-Americans to over 500 in New York and New Jersey area and those who tested positive to several thousands.
Several prominent Indian-American doctors and eminent community members have succumbed to the COVID-19 in the past two months.
After the initial hiccups, the US has ramped up its testing across the nation. So far, it has done a record 15.7 million tests of which 1.8 million have tested positive, the CDC said.
The largest number of cases of over 500,000 have been found in the age group of 18-44 years, followed by over 450,000 in the age group of 45-64 years.
"Our nation mourns the loss of so many Americans to this deadly pandemic – now more than 100,000 killed, including nearly 5,000 in Illinois," Congressman Bill Foster said.
"It's important to realise that while this crisis has caused deep economic strain to our economy, those who've lost friends or family members to the coronavirus are the ones who've experienced the most pain, and our thoughts are with everyone mourning loved ones," he said.
In years to come, President Trump's denial in the early weeks will likely come to be seen as one of the most damaging passages of the crisis. It contributed to the disastrous deficit the US later experienced in developing a testing infrastructure and the shortages of protective gear for emergency responders and doctors and nurses, CNN commented.
A Columbia University study released last week found that had the US started social distancing a week earlier, it could have prevented the loss of at least 36,000 lives.