The US is leading the world in terms of COVID-19 testing and India is second, President Donald Trump has said while warning Americans that the pandemic may "get worse before it gets better." Over 140,000 Americans have died due to the coronavirus and 3.8 million have tested positive in the country. While the US economy is slowly coming back to normal, the pandemic is now spreading in many Sun Belt states, including in Arizona, Florida, Texas and parts of California.
"As one family, we mourn every precious life that's been lost. I pledge in their honour that we will develop a vaccine and we will defeat the virus. We're doing very well with vaccine development and therapeutic development," Trump said at a White House news conference on Tuesday, his first on coronavirus after several weeks.
His daily news conferences ended soon after he suggested in April that the virus might be treated by injecting disinfectant into people, for which he was scorned by doctors, scientists and political rivals.
Trump insisted the American response to the pandemic was "much better" than in other places. But he also warned that the disease could get worse in the coming days.
"It will probably unfortunately get worse before it gets better," he said.
Cases are surging in several US states, particularly in southern states that were initially reluctant to enforce lockdowns or mandate the wearing of masks. Florida is currently the epicentre of the US epidemic. In recent weeks, hospitals across Florida warned that their ICUs were at capacity and that they were unable to accept any new patients.
Trump said his administration will stop at nothing to save lives and shield the vulnerable.
"We've learned so much about this disease. And we know who the vulnerable are, and we are going to indeed shield them," he said.
Trump assured that the vaccines against the novel coronavirus will be coming a lot sooner than expected.
Replying to a question, Trump said the US is "leading the world" in terms of COVID-19 testing.
"We're going to be over 50 million tests," he said, adding that "second country is India with 12 million (tests). Then you have seven million, six million, and four million. I think that we are doing a tremendous amount of testing." The "China virus", Trump said, is a vicious and dangerous illness.
"It's a nasty, horrible disease that should heve never been allowed to escape China, but it did. It infected the world, and the world is suffering. But we're going to get it taken care of, and we're helping lots of other countries," the US president said.
On tackling the virus, Trump said his administration is developing a powerful strategy. "We've learned a great deal about it (COVID-19) and who it targets.
We are in the process of developing a strategy that's going to be very, very powerful," he said.
California surpasses New York state in confirmed virus cases
California's confirmed coronavirus cases have topped 409,000, surpassing New York for most in the nation.
John's Hopkins University data showed Wednesday that California now has about 1,200 more cases than New York.
However, New York's 72,302 deaths are by far the highest total in the country and nine times more than California's tally, and its rate of confirmed infections of about 2,100 per 100,000 people is twice California's rate.
California is by far the most populous U.S. state, at nearly 40 million people, while New York has about 19.5 million.
"We're doing all we can to make sure that we control the rate of spread, despite crossing 400,000 cases in California," state Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly said Tuesday. "In the end I really expect and hope California is going to be the state that adapted the most, learned the most and prepared the best." U.S. government data published Tuesday found that reported and confirmed coronavirus cases vastly underestimate the true number of infections, echoing results from a smaller study last month. The United States also has had consistent testing failures that experts say contribute to an undercount of the actual virus rate.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study says true COVID-19 rates were more than 10 times higher than reported cases in most U.S. regions from late March to early May. It is based on COVID-19 antibody tests performed on routine blood samples in 16,000 people in 10 U.S. regions.