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U.S. surpasses China with coronavirus cases as global total tops 500,000

At least 85,707 cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed in the United States, resulting in 1,268 deaths.
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The United States is leading the world in the number of coronavirus cases as of Friday with 85,707 people sick, according to tracking by NBC News — a toll that surpasses the caseload in China where the pandemic ignited in December.

The number of deaths has also risen to 1,268, with New York being the worst hit, accounting for 433 of those killed by COVID-19.

Meanwhile, the number of confirmed cases worldwide has soared to 533,416 and the death toll reaching 24,082 as of 4:15 am ET, according to the Johns Hopkins University tracker.

Image: A member of the Brooklyn Hospital Center helps a person who was just tested for COVID-19 put an object in a biohazard bag, Thursday, March 26, 2020, in New York.
A member of the Brooklyn Hospital Center helps a person who was just tested for COVID-19 on Thursday in New York.Mary Altaffer / AP

President Donald Trump tweeted early Friday that he’d spoken to Chinese President Xi Jinping about the response to the virus. “China has been through much & has developed a strong understanding of the virus. We are working closely together,” Trump said.

At an earlier briefing, Trump said the U.S. is working with the international community, sharing information and data, to fight the virus. He also touted the $2.2 trillion relief package, which Congress is set to vote on Friday, while announcing that the Federal Emergency Management Agency is distributing millions of masks and other equipment to hospitals.

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But in New York, hospitals are already overwhelmed with waiting rooms packed with people who are contagious, shortages of beds being reported and doctors scrambling to get more ventilators.

The federal government was sending 2,000 ventilators to New York City, but 15,000 are needed, Mayor Bill de Blasio has said.

Trump cast doubt on the needs of hospitals while calling into Fox News on Thursday night.

"I don't believe you need 40,000 or 30,000 ventilators," the president told Sean Hannity. "You know, you go into major hospitals sometimes and they'll have two ventilators. Now all of sudden they're saying, 'Can we order 30,000 ventilators?'"

Louisiana saw a 28 percent increase in confirmed cases Thursday from the previous day, Gov. John Bel Edwards said during a press briefing. The state has turned to the federal government and Virginia for support to help manage the surge of patients in hospitals.

“There simply are not enough health care resources,” Edwards said. If the current pace of new cases continues, the state could reach capacity as early as April 2 for ventilators and April 7 for hospital beds.

New Orleans alone would need another 1,000 hospital beds by April 8 based on the most recent projections. The city has only received an additional 250 beds from the federal government, Edwards said.

He urged the public to adhere to lockdown measures to help "flatten the curve."

Image: Doctors treat COVID-19 patients in an intensive care unit at the third Covid 3 Hospital (Istituto clinico CasalPalocco) during the Coronavirus emergency on March 26, 2020, in Rome, Italy.
Doctors treat COVID-19 patients in an intensive care unit at the third Covid 3 Hospital on Thursday.Antonio Masiello / Getty Images

“There is no reason why things that you see coming out of Italy wouldn’t happen here in Louisiana if people don’t engage seriously in these mitigation measures,” he said. “The good news is, we still have time to do it to make a tremendously positive difference in the outcome.”

Meanwhile, the hardest-hit country in the world, Italy, continues to report the highest death toll with at least 8,215. Among the dead are 41 health professionals, the Italian federation of doctors said.

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With a nationwide lockdown continuing in an attempt to contain the spread of the virus, schools are now facing the prospect of remaining closed for the remainder of the school year and not reopening until September, Italy’s Education Minister Lucia Azzolina told the country’s Senate on Thursday.

In the United Kingdom, people across the country went out to their porches, windows and balconies at 8 p.m. (4 p.m. ET) Thursday to clap for health care workers in a gesture of gratitude and encouragement.

The total number of people with the virus is nearing 12,000 in the U.K., adding to fears the virus will overwhelm the country’s beloved universal health system.