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3 million coronavirus cases now confirmed in US

U.S. health officials say the real number of coronavirus infections is probably 10 times higher, or close to 10% of the population.

LOS ANGELES — The United States has become the first country to reach three million confirmed cases of COVID-19. The milestone was reached Wednesday morning, according to tracking by Johns Hopkins University.

By comparison, just one other country -- Brazil -- has passed the 1 million mark.

The Johns Hopkins University tracker shows more than 131,000 people in the U.S. have died from COVID-19. There have been more than 936,000 recoveries.

But U.S. health officials say the real number of infections is probably 10 times higher, or close to 10% of the population.

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Brazil has nearly 1.7 million confirmed cases, according to Johns Hopkins University 1.1 million of those have recovered while 66,000 have died.

Worldwide, there have been nearly 11.8 million confirmed cases and 544,000 deaths.

The numbers have been surging in recent weeks amid a rapid expansion in testing. But experts say the rise cannot be explained as just the result of more testing. The number of tests per day in the U.S. is up to about 640,000 on average, an increase from around 518,000 two weeks ago, according to an Associated Press analysis.

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They say the outbreak is worsening, as shown by such warning signs as an increase in the percentage of tests coming back positive for the virus.

For most people, the new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia and death.