US coronavirus death toll hits 150,000, highest in the world by far

US coronavirus death toll hits 150,000, highest in the world by far

  • Outbreak heating up in Midwest, fuelled by young adults heading back to bars, gyms and restaurants
  • Surge accompanied by growing spread of misinformation and conspiracy theories over masks and unproven cures

The death toll from the coronavirus in the US hit 150,000 on Wednesday, by the far the highest in the world, according to a tally kept by Johns Hopkins University.

Brazil was second with over 88,000 deaths, followed by Britain at about 46,000.

The bleak US milestone comes amid signs that the nation’s outbreak is beginning to stabilise in the Sun Belt but heating up in the Midwest, fuelled largely by young adults who are hitting bars, restaurants and gyms again.

Johns Hopkins put the nation’s confirmed infections at nearly 4.4 million, also the highest in the world, though the real numbers in the US and around the globe are believed to be higher because of limits on testing and the many mild cases that have gone undetected or unreported.

The surge has been accompanied by a burgeoning outbreak of misinformation and conspiracy theories about supposed cures and the effectiveness of masks.

The phenomenon, unfolding largely on social media, escalated this week when President Donald Trump retweeted a false video about an anti-malaria drug being a cure for the virus and it was revealed that Russian intelligence is spreading disinformation about the crisis through English-language websites.