U.S. Coronavirus Cases Double in Just Three Days to 50,000, 'Very Large Acceleration' of Infections WHO Warns

Cases of the COVID-19 virus in the U.S. have doubled in three days, climbing past 50,000 according to the latest figures from Johns Hopkins University. On Sunday, there were 26,000 cases reported. The U.S. death toll has surpassed 500, with more fatalities in New York, Washington state and other states.

The World Health Organization (WHO) warned on Tuesday that the U.S. has the potential to experience a widespread outbreak, noting the country was seeing a "very large acceleration" in infections.

The virus, which was first reported in China's Wuhan city in the province of Hubei, has spread to nearly 400,000 people across at least 169 countries. Over 103,000 have recovered from infection, while the death count has surpassed 17,200. More cases have been reported outside China than within.

When asked whether the U.S. could become the new epicenter of the virus, WHO spokeswoman Margaret Harris told reporters: "We are now seeing a very large acceleration in cases in the U.S. So it does have that potential," Reuters reports.

The virus has spread to all 50 states, as well as Washington, D.C., and U.S. territories including Puerto Rico, Guam and the U.S. Virgin Islands, according to the latest figures from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

At least 449 of the total confirmed cases are reported to be travel-related, while around 539 are linked to close contact with an infected individual. At least 32,416 cases are under investigation, according to the latest figures from the CDC.

Washington state, New York and California have reported the highest number of cases so far and a "stay at home" order, which requires residents to remain in their homes and all non-essential businesses to close, has been issued across all three states in a bid to help curb the spread.

New York has seen a growing number of cases, reporting at least 25,665 infections so far, according to the latest figures from the office of New York Governor Andrew Cuomo. The state is host to more than half of the country's total number of confirmed cases.

New York City alone accounts for at least 12,305 cases, the governor's office confirms, while the state's death toll is at 188, as of Tuesday.

On Monday, Dr. Deborah Birx, a health expert on the virus task force led by Vice President Mike Pence, warned at a White House press briefing: "The New York metro area of New Jersey, New York City and parts of Long Island have an attack rate close to one in 1,000. This [rate] is five times [greater than] what the other areas [in the country] are seeing."

She explained that nearly 28 percent of the specimens from the region submitted for examination tested positive for the virus, while less than eight percent from other parts of the country tested positive.

Worshipper at cathedral in LA wearing mask
A worshipper wears a face mask to protect against the coronavirus while sitting in a pew at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels on Ash Wednesday on February 26, 2020 in Los Angeles, California. Healthy individuals only need to wear a mask if taking care of a sick person, the World Health Organization (WHO) advises. Getty Images

Washington state has reported at least 2,221 positive cases and around 110 deaths, according to the state's department of health.

At least 46 of the cases in California have been passengers aboard the Diamond Princess, the Princess Cruises ship quarantined in Japan last month after a passenger from Hong Kong tested positive for the virus, according to the latest figures from the CDC.

Several passengers from the Grand Princess (another vessel from Princess Cruises), which was recently held off the coast of San Francisco, have also tested positive.

The graphic below, provided by Statista, illustrates the recovery curve compared to the infection curve of the virus.

Number of COVID-19 cases compared to recoveries.
Number of COVID-19 cases compared to recoveries.

Latest COVID-19 death toll in the U.S.

  • New York - 188 (125 in New York City, 63 others)
  • Washington state - 107 (87 in King County, 11 Snohomish, 9 others)
  • California - 43 ( 8 Los Angeles, 13 Santa Clara, 22 others)
  • Louisiana - 35
  • New Jersey - 27
  • Georgia - 26
  • Florida - 18
  • Michigan - 15
  • Illinois - 12
  • Conecticut - 10
  • Massachusetts - 9
  • Colorado - 7
  • Missouri - 5
  • Indiana - 4
  • Nevada - 4
  • Kentucky - 4
  • Texas - 4
  • Vermont - 4
  • Maryland - 3
  • Ohio - 4
  • Wisconsin - 3
  • Arizona - 3
  • Pennsylvania - 2
  • Tennessee - 2
  • Virgina - 2
  • Kansas - 2
  • Washington, D.C. - 2
  • Minnesota - 1
  • Mississippi - 1
  • New Hampshire - 1

Data on COVID-19 cases is from Johns Hopkins University unless otherwise stated.

The graphic below, provided by Statista, illustrates the spread of the COVID-19 virus across the U.S.

U.S. COVID-19 cases by state March 24
This infographic shows the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases by state.

World Health Organization advice for avoiding spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19)

Hygiene advice

  • Clean hands frequently with soap and water, or alcohol-based hand rub.
  • Wash hands after coughing or sneezing; when caring for the sick; before, during and after food preparation; before eating; after using the toilet; when hands are visibly dirty; and after handling animals or waste.
  • Maintain at least 1 meter (3 feet) distance from anyone who is coughing or sneezing.Avoid touching your hands, nose and mouth. Do not spit in public.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or bent elbow when coughing or sneezing. Discard the tissue immediately and clean your hands.

Medical advice

  • If you feel unwell (fever, cough, difficulty breathing) seek medical care early and call local health authorities in advance.
  • Stay up to date on COVID-19 developments issued by health authorities and follow their guidance.

Mask usage

  • Healthy individuals only need to wear a mask if taking care of a sick person.
  • Wear a mask if you are coughing or sneezing. Masks are effective when used in combination with frequent hand cleaning.
  • Do not touch the mask while wearing it. Clean hands if you touch the mask.
  • Learn how to properly put on, remove and dispose of masks. Clean hands after disposing of the mask.
  • Do not reuse single-use masks.