The tragic milestone comes just four months after the government confirmed the first case of COVID-19 in the United States

By Georgia Slater
May 28, 2020 09:19 AM
Advertisement

The United States has surpassed more than 100,000 deaths due to the novel coronavirus, officially making it the country with the highest death toll of any nation in the world, according to recent data.

As of Thursday morning, there have been 100,426 deaths in the United States and 1.7 million confirmed cases of COVID-19, according to data collected by the New York Times. Worldwide, there have been over 5.6 million confirmed cases of the virus and 355,728 deaths.

According to the New York Times, the tally is higher than any number of fatalities from U.S. military combat since the Korean War, and it is on track to becoming the country's deadliest public health crisis since the 1918 flu.

The enormous toll comes just four months after the government confirmed the first case of COVID-19 in the United States.

Nurses station in busy hospital
Getty

The epicenter of the virus continues to be in New York, where there have been more than 29,000 deaths. New Jersey has the second-highest death toll with over 11,000 deaths.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo reacted to the news of the death toll Thursday morning, offering a moment of "unity and sorrow."

"We lost 100,000 Americans. Each one was loved. Each one will be missed," he wrote, attaching a photo of a black screen that reads "In Memoriam."

According to the CDC, at least 291 doctors, nurses, and other health care workers have died of coronavirus-related illnesses, most likely from caring for infected patients.

The first cases of a mysterious respiratory illness — what is now known as COVID-2019 — began in Wuhan, China, in late December. Since then, the virus has spread worldwide, leading the World Health Organization to declare a public health emergency, the first since the zika epidemic in 2016.

At first, this coronavirus was contained to China, but Wuhan is a major transportation hub with hundreds of flights leaving and landing from the city of 11 million each day.

The first known case in America was found in Everett, Washington, just outside of Seattle, in a man who had recently returned from Wuhan. The number of cases grew slowly from there, with a total of just 14 over the course of about a month, but as February came to an end, the virus began to spread more rapidly in communities across the U.S.

On Feb. 26, California health officials announced the first case of community spread — meaning someone had contracted coronavirus despite no recent travel, and had likely unknowingly come in contact with someone with the virus. From there, the number of U.S. cases jumped significantly, particularly in densely-populated areas in New York and Michigan.

At the end of April, several states began allowing businesses to reopen, despite warnings from health experts that social distancing is still needed to avoid a resurgence of infections.

As information about the coronavirus pandemic rapidly changes, PEOPLE is committed to providing the most recent data in our coverage. Some of the information in this story may have changed after publication. For the latest on COVID-19, readers are encouraged to use online resources from CDC, WHO, and local public health departments. PEOPLE has partnered with GoFundMe to raise money for the COVID-19 Relief Fund, a GoFundMe.org fundraiser to support everything from frontline responders to families in need, as well as organizations helping communities. For more information or to donate, click here.