US coronavirus death toll tops 1,000: study

– More than 68,000 have contracted virus, according to US university researchers

By Servet Gunerigok

WASHINGTON (AA) – More than 1,000 people in the U.S. have died from the novel coronavirus so far, reaching a four-digit figure for the first time.

According to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University, there are now 1,031 deaths and the country has the third-highest number of confirmed cases at 68,572.

China, where the pandemic broke out, tops the list with 81,667 cases, followed by Italy with 74,386.

The first death from the disease, or COVID-19, was reported in Washington state on March 1.

On Tuesday, an official from the World Health Organization said the U.S. could become the epicenter of the virus after a "very large acceleration" in the number of cases.

"We are now seeing a very large acceleration in cases in the U.S., so it does have that potential," said WHO spokeswoman Margaret Harris.

According to the figures, New York has the most fatalities of any state at 311. Washington state has reported 100 and New Jersey 44, respectively.

Since emerging in Wuhan, China, last December, the virus has spread to at least 172 countries and regions.

The data shows there have been over 470,900 cases reported worldwide since last December, with more than 21,200 deaths and 114,012 recoveries.