Coronavirus Update: U.S. Deaths Surpass 5,000, More Than 215,000 Cases Reported

More than 5,000 people in the United States have died from the novel coronavirus, 5 percent of the total casualties officials expect to see during the outbreak.

As of Wednesday evening, the U.S. had 215,417 cases of the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19, the most of any country in the world, according to a tracker maintained by Johns Hopkins University. Of those cases, 5,116 people died and officials warned that unless everyone strictly adheres to the guidelines, America could be in for a great tragedy.

"This is going to be a very painful, very, very painful two weeks," Trump said on Tuesday.

The bulk of deaths occurred in New York, a state that's become the epicenter of the outbreak in the United States. At least 2,192 people in the Empire State have died, about 42 percent of the total number of U.S. deaths.

The White House estimated that 100,000 to 200,000 people could die from the virus and Governor Andrew Cuomo shared projections for the state that put the death toll at 16,000. Different models project different numbers, but regardless, the governor said the death toll is already "staggering."

"There is no question what we are dealing with. There is no question as to the consequences. There is no question as to the grief and loss of life," Cuomo said during a press conference.

coronavirus deaths united states 5,000
The U.S. Capitol stands in the background as Pennsylvania Avenue is mostly empty on Wednesday morning on Wednesday, in Washington, D.C. There have now been more than 5,000 deaths from the coronavirus in the U.S. Drew Angerer/Getty

The goal is to save every life possible and both Cuomo and Trump have stressed the impact individual actions could have on the loss of life. Social distancing and handwashing is known to make a difference in curbing outbreaks. The stricter people adhere to local, state and federal guidelines, the sooner mitigation measures can be lifted and life can begin returning to normal.

On Tuesday, Trump announced a 30-day plan to slow the spread of the virus. It's a continuation of his 15-day plan, which went into effect on March 16. The guidelines advise people to stay home if they're sick, live with someone who has tested positive or are among the vulnerable populations. Americans were also told to avoid social gatherings involving more than 10 people and discretionary travel.

Most people who contract the virus will experience mild symptoms and be able to recover at home. However, for others, especially those who are over 60 or have underlying health conditions, COVID-19 could require significant medical intervention, including a ventilator.

"I've been through the Haitis of the world, where bodies laid in the streets for several days or weeks. The whole system was overwhelmed. That's one extreme," Dr. Jon Andrus, a professor of global health at George Washington University told Newsweek. "We're lucky in a way but it's a question of doing every possible action at every level to ensure the best we can that we minimize deaths."

Andrus reinforced the message that regardless of the current state of the situation, every area needs to be taking the necessary steps to prevent the virus from spreading. It won't hit every spot simultaneously, Andrus said, and one-by-one urban centers will be affected.

"The biggest challenge is to get healthy people to help others at risk," Andrus said.