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U.S. Surpasses Italy In Total COVID-19 Deaths


The U.S. has now surpassed Italy as the country with the most deaths from COVID-19 anywhere in the world. More than 20,000 Americans have now lost their lives to the disease, and more than half a million have tested positive. NPR's global health correspondent Jason Beaubien joins me now to talk about this.

Hello, Jason.


GJELTEN: So let's see. Today, Maryland Governor Larry Hogan and New York Governor Andrew Cuomo sent a letter to Congress asking for more money for states in the midst of this crisis. What is it they are asking for?

BEAUBIEN: So they're looking for another $500 billion from the feds. The states are saying they're really hard-hit by the economic shutdown as well as battling this virus. Hogan is the chairman of the National Governors Association, and Cuomo is the vice chair, so these are sort of big players coming from the governors.

And, you know, they're saying that states' coffers are getting slammed in the middle of this. They're spending money on protective gear, ventilators, overtime for people at hospitals. But also, their tax revenues have really tanked. President Trump has been saying, you know, the states have got what they need. But the governors here are saying, you know, not so fast. We're going to need a lot more help from the feds to get through this.

GJELTEN: Now, much of the focus of the pandemic recently has been on the United States here, with the disease spreading rapidly here over the last month. Meanwhile, the virus has continued to flare up in other parts of the world. What are we seeing in some of these other places right now that's most concerning?

BEAUBIEN: You know, so Europe is still not out of the woods. I mean, there's been a lot of talk about things peaking, and some of the European countries have kind of looked like they've gotten to the top or started to come down the other side.

But, you know, as you mentioned earlier, Italy also has just about 20,000 deaths. Spain actually has more cases than Italy, although their death rate has been lower. Then you look at, like, the U.K. The U.K., things seemed to be getting better, and now things are moving in the opposite direction. So Europe is definitely one of the big concerns.

GJELTEN: Do we have any idea why things seem to have changed in the U.K.?

BEAUBIEN: You know, it's not entirely clear why that is. It definitely shows that you can't just back off in terms of your measures, even when things start looking like they're going in the right direction. The U.K. right now is showing us that that trend can turn around.

GJELTEN: So we've heard a lot about these places with high numbers. Are there some others that are just simmering that we're finding out about?

BEAUBIEN: So unfortunately, there's a whole bunch of them, and they're some - these are kind of major players in the global economy and in the globe - Russia, Brazil, India. Russia is starting to report cases. We weren't seeing much out of Russia. Now it looks like they do have a serious problem there.

Brazil - you know, in the Southern Hemisphere, we haven't seen as many cases in the Southern Hemisphere, but Brazil looks like it's heating up. And speaking of the Southern Hemisphere, Ecuador saw the number of cases there nearly double last week. Keeping a close eye on India - they've put in lockdowns across many places to try to control it there. But that's also a big concern.

GJELTEN: And quickly, are there any good news stories out there - success stories?

BEAUBIEN: Well, South Korea is really looking like the big success story. - you know, besides China, which managed to get its numbers down so dramatically. Yeah. I mean, in South Korea, things are really looking good. It looks like that curve has gone over the peak. It's coming down. And it's pointing down, you know, towards zero, where everyone wants to go to.

GJELTEN: Well, that's our global health correspondent, Jason Beaubien, with the latest on the coronavirus.

Jason, thanks so much. Good talking to you.

BEAUBIEN: Good talking to you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Jason Beaubien is NPR's Global Health and Development Correspondent on the Science Desk.