More than 51,000 have died and 208,000 recovered in what has become the biggest global public health crisis of our time.
When the virus was first discovered, doctors likened it to Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, or SARS, the illness that sickened 8,000 people mostly in Asia in 2003. Highly contagious, and appearing with little or no symptoms in some cases, COVID-19 has rapidly eclipsed all recent outbreaks in scale and size. Fewer than 20 countries in the world remain free of infection.
The U.S. now has the most cases officially recorded globally with more than 234,000, according to Johns Hopkins University, which draws on a combination of data sources — from governments to the World Health Organization and local media — to feed its tallies. Next is Italy, with 115,000, the JHU data show. Italy has the highest death toll with almost 14,000 virus fatalities, followed by Spain.
With world travel paralyzed and millions of people under some form of lockdown as a result of government efforts to contain the spread, the health crisis has also become an economic one: the global economy is expected to shrink 2% in the first half of 2020. Business activity has ground to a halt in many sectors, with predictions the U.S. jobless rate could reach 30% in the second quarter.