Sept. 19 (UPI) — The number of people who have died from COVID-19 in the United States is nearly 200,000, a number the country is likely to surpass this weekend.
According to the Johns Hopkins University coronavirus tracker, 198,921 people in the United States have died of the virus, making the country’s death count the highest of any in the world.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported a similar number of deaths by Saturday afternoon — 198,099 — with 983 added since Friday.
The average number of U.S. deaths per day has hovered near 1,000 for several weeks, making the country likely to top 200,000 deaths this weekend.
The total number of confirmed cases in the United States is also the highest in the world: 6.7 million people have contracted the novel coronavirus since the first case was reported in the country in February.
In March, White House Coronavirus Response Coordinator Dr. Deborah Birx, said the best-case scenario — with “100 percent of Americans doing precisely what is required” — would result in 100,000 to 200,000 deaths.
Former CDC director Tom Frieden said many of those deaths could have been prevented with a more aggressive approach to containing the virus.
“Tens of thousands of people would not have died if the U.S. response had been more effective,” said Frieden, now president of Resolve to Save Lives, a global public health initiative.
The daily count of new infections is down from mid-July, when more than 75,000 cases were reported in a single day, but this week saw increased cases in the Southwest and Midwest, driven by reopening of schools and college campuses — and health experts worry that a motorcycle rally in Missouri could lead to a surge in cases similar to the ones traced to a rally in Sturgis, S.D., last month.
The CDC logged 49,575 new cases Friday and 39,902 the day before.
The 14th annual BikeFest Lake of the Ozarks started Wednesday and wraps Sunday.
Officials said it drew 125,000 people last year.
Case numbers are also rising sharply in North Dakota, Colorado, Wyoming and Wisconsin.
The uptick in Wisconsin is especially sharp, with more than 2,500 new infections reported on Friday — more than twice the number of new cases two weeks ago.
Wisconsin’s increased case load appears to be driven by young people testing positive in college towns such as Madison and La Crosse.