WASHINGTON - Hours after the United States saw the deadliest day in the fight against the coronavirus, U.S. President Donald Trump came out with a prediction of better days to come. At a news conference Wednesday evening, the president said the expected number of COVID-19 deaths in the United States is now about 61,000 - down from a recent estimate of 82,000 and down even further from an estimate earlier this month predicting a death toll of at least 100,000 and as many as 240,000.
On Wednesday, close to 2,000 COVID-19 U.S. patients died within a 24-hour period, bringing the death toll from the virus to more than 14,500. Trump said the figures would be higher if he had not closed the U.S. borders early in the outbreak, contrary to the World Health Organization advisory. He said new projections could be even more optimistic depending on continued patience and discipline by the American people, many of whom are confined to their homes.
In the U.S., African Americans are the group hardest hit by the coronavirus. Officials say that is because that population group also suffers from other health problems, such as asthma and diabetes, that weaken the immune system. Elderly populations everywhere are more likely to succumb to the virus.
Spanish officials say that most of the 4,750 people in Madrid's nursing homes who have died during the outbreak had the COVID-19 disease or its symptoms. Most of those deaths are not showing up in the city's COVID-19 death count because most of the ill weren't tested and therefore aren't counted in the national toll.
Countries around the world are in different stages of the coronavirus trajectory. The number of deaths and new cases are decreasing in countries where the outbreak started earlier: China, South Korea and even Italy and Spain. Austria, Denmark and Norway are planning to reopen schools later this month and loosen other restrictions.
But Turkey reported an increase of 4,117 new cases in one day. France and Britain appear to be peaking this week, as is the United States. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has been hospitalized since Sunday. His condition is said to be improving after two days in intensive care.
The small Mediterranean island nation of Malta has recorded its first death linked to the coronavirus. The victim was a 92-year-old woman who suffered from renal and cardiac complications and was also diabetic.
In Serbia, the 22-year-old son of President Aleksandar Vučić has contracted the virus and has been admitted to the country's Infectious Diseases Clinic. As of Wednesday, Serbia had 2,666 COVID-19 cases with 65 deaths. Neighboring Croatia had fewer than 1,400 cases and 19 deaths despite its proximity to Italy - and a recent earthquake - due to strictly imposed social distancing and lockdowns, especially for elderly residents.
Protective measures such as restriction of movement are applied differently throughout the United States. The White House COVID-19 task force Wednesday urged Americans to adhere to their local recommendations and continue acting with utmost caution. They said social distancing will be crucial in the coming weeks and after the number of new infections declines because relaxing too early could lead to a second wave of infections.