WASHINGTON -- The White House coronavirus task force, led by Vice President Pence, held its first briefing in nearly two months on Friday.
Pence gave assurances that the U.S. is “in a much better place” than it was two months ago. He said the country has more medical supplies on hand, a smaller share of patients are being hospitalized and deaths are much lower than they were in the spring.
The count of new confirmed novel coronavirus infections, provided by Johns Hopkins University, eclipsed the previous high of 36,400, set on April 24, during one of the deadliest stretches. Newly reported cases per day have risen on average about 60 percent during the last two weeks, according to an Associated Press analysis.
While the rise partly reflects expanded testing, experts say there is ample evidence the scourge is making a comeback, including rising deaths and hospitalizations in parts of the country and higher percentages of tests coming back positive for the virus.
At the task force briefing, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the country’s top infectious-disease expert, urged people to mind their responsibility to others: “A risk for you is not just isolated to you.”
Deaths from the coronavirus in the U.S. are running at about 600 per day, down from a peak of around 2,200 in mid-April. Some experts have expressed doubt that deaths will return to that level because of advances in treatment and prevention and because younger adults are more likely than older ones to survive.
The virus is blamed for 124,000 deaths in the U.S. and 2.4 million confirmed infections nationwide, by Johns Hopkins' count. But U.S. health officials believe the true number of infections is about 10 times higher. Worldwide, the virus has claimed close to a half-million lives, according to Johns Hopkins.