Overnight, data showed the number of confirmed cases in the U.S. has now surpassed that of China.
News that America had surpassed virus hotspots China and Italy with 82,404 cases of infection, according to a tracker run by Johns Hopkins University, broke as the president was holding a press conference at the White House.
Donald Trump again struggled to reassure a fearful nation on Thursday as it emerged the US now has the highest number of confirmed coronavirus cases in the world.
His instinctive response was to question other countries’ statistics. “It’s a tribute to the amount of testing that we’re doing,” Trump told reporters. “We’re doing tremendous testing, and I’m sure you’re not able to tell what China is testing or not testing. I think that’s a little hard.”
While the US has increased its testing capacity in recents days the process has been flawed and incoherent, and the country still lags behind leaders such as South Korea in terms of the number of tests administered per-capita.
On a grim day, the death toll in America surpassed 1,000 and it was revealed that last week 3.3 million people filed for unemployment – the biggest single-week jump in history. The president has been widely condemned for failing to act fast enough, misjudging the public mood and seeking to blame others rather than taking personal responsibility.