By Lisa Shumaker
(Reuters) – U.S. coronavirus deaths topped 47,000 on Wednesday after rising by a near-record single-day number the previous day, according to a Reuters tally.
A University of Washington model https://covid19.healthdata.org/united-states-of-america, often cited by the White House, projected a total of nearly 66,000 U.S. coronavirus deaths by Aug. 4, an upward revision from its most recent previous estimate of 60,000 deaths. At current rates, U.S. deaths could reach 50,000 later this week.
The first U.S. coronavirus death occurred weeks earlier than previously believed, according to California county health officials who saved tissue samples for weeks until they could be tested. The first U.S. death was on Feb. 6, instead of Feb. 29, they reported.
In the weeks since, the U.S. death toll has soared to the highest in the world.
U.S. deaths totaled 47,050 on Wednesday, with the day’s count about 1,800 and some states have yet to report. U.S. deaths increased by 2,792 on Tuesday alone, just shy of a peak of 2,806 deaths in a single day on April 15.
New York state, the epicenter of the U.S. outbreak, reported 474 new deaths on Wednesday, the smallest increase since April 1. Some nearby states such as Pennsylvania and New Jersey reported record single-day deaths tolls on Tuesday.
Health officials have said that deaths are a lagging indicator of the outbreak, coming weeks after patients fall sick, and do not mean stay-at-home restrictions are failing to slow the spread of the virus.
The United States has by far the world’s largest number of confirmed coronavirus cases at over 830,000. Cases rose 20,000 so far on Wednesday and were on track to continue the slow but steady decline seen throughout April.
President Donald Trump on Wednesday applauded steps taken by a handful of Republican-led U.S. states, including Georgia, South Carolina and Tennessee, to start reopening their economies despite warnings of a potential fresh surge of coronavirus infections.
(The story refiles to add coronavirus to headline)
(Writing by Lisa Shumaker; Editing by Howard Goller)