The world just passed a grim milestone: More than 2 million people have contracted COVID-19.
It's been 45 days since the first COVID-19 case was reported in New York, 85 days since the first COVID-19 case was reported in the U.S. and 106 days since the world first learned about a mysterious respiratory virus that had sickened at least 44 people in China.
On Dec. 31, Chinese health officials first alerted the world to a cluster of people who had developed respiratory illnesses after having been at a Huanan Seafood Market in Wuhan in Hubei province, China, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). But the earliest case of COVID-19 may have been in a 55-year-old Hubei province individual back in mid-November, Live Science previously reported.
Since then, despite efforts to contain the SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes COVID-19 made its way around the world and has now resulted in more than 128,000 deaths. On March 11, the World Health Organization officially declared the outbreak a pandemic.
After months of quarantine, most of China, including Wuhan, has ended its lockdown. Though life there is far from normal, Chinese residents are now allowed to travel — as long as they can show authorities a green code on their phone indicating they are healthy.
Meanwhile, cases continue to spike in Europe and in the U.S. In Europe, Italy and Spain have been the hardest hit — Italy has logged more than 162,400 cases and more than 21,000 deaths, while Spain is reporting more than 177,600 cases and more than 18,500 deaths, according to the Johns Hopkins dashboard. The U.S. leads the world with more than 609,000 cases of COVID-19 and more than 26,000 deaths.
New York is the hardest-hit state with more than 203,000 cases, a case count that on its own exceeds the case count of every other country. More than 10,000 people have died in New York City alone. Though New York still reports more than 600 to 700 deaths a day, the number of hospitalizations is plateauing, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said in his daily press briefing on Monday (April 12).
It's hard to believe that it took just a couple of months for this invisible menace to squeeze the world in a chokehold, overwhelming hospitals, crashing economies and killing tens of thousands of people. But this pandemic has also shown humanity's greatness — from the janitors and transit workers braving the coronavirus to show up to work every day, to the doctors, nurses and health care providers who are working endless hours and risking their lives to save ours.
There are also some glimmers of hope: More than 500,000 people have recovered from the virus worldwide.
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Originally published on Live Science.
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Yasemin is a staff writer at Live Science, covering health, neuroscience and biology. Her work has appeared in Scientific American, Science and the San Jose Mercury News. She has a bachelor's degree in biomedical engineering from the University of Connecticut and a graduate certificate in science communication from the University of California, Santa Cruz.