Coronavirus crisis: With US fatalities near 100K, country’s death rate lower than much of Western Europe

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The U.S. is on track this week to hit 100,000 deaths from the coronavirus pandemic, prompting criticism of the Trump administration’s handling of the outbreak.

Critics have compared the high death toll to the number of American lives lost in previous wars: the number of Americans killed in the Korean and Vietnam wars, for instance, was more than 36,000 and more than 58,000, respectively.

While the United States’ coronavirus death tally is the highest in the world, the death rate per number of cases and per 100,000 people ranks significantly lower than most other Western European countries.

Information signs are displayed at an Illinois Air Team Test Station in Lincolnshire, Ill., Wednesday, May 27, 2020. 

In terms of the case-to-fatality ratio, the U.S. is around 5.9 percent, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University of government reports. Meanwhile, Spain, Sweden, the Netherlands, the U.K., Italy, France and Belgium all have a mortality rate in the double digits, with Belgium’s standing at 16.2 percent as of Wednesday.

When the deaths are measured per 100,000 people, the U.S. — at 30.23 — still ranks below those countries, plus Ireland. As of Wednesday, Belgium has a mortality rate of 81.72 for every 100,000 people, the highest in the world.

Around the globe, the virus has infected nearly 5.6 million people and killed over 350,000, nearly half of which are in Europe, according to Johns Hopkins University.


After months of lockdowns in countries all over the world, places have begun reopening in stages. Mediterranean beaches and Las Vegas casinos have laid out plans to welcome tourists again. Churches have begun opening up. And humans restless from being cooped up indoors for weeks have begun venturing outside in droves.

The Trump administration’s top scientists have cautioned against any optimism, warning that as many as 240,000 Americans could die in the coming months. Other public health experts have cautioned that even more death is in the offing.


“Despite the terrible losses seen and the many difficulties Americans have faced to-date in this pandemic, we’re still probably only in the early stages,” said Josh Michaud, associate director of global health policy with the Kaiser Family Foundation in Washington, D.C.

“In the U.S., we could be looking at a long pandemic summer with a slow burn of cases and deaths. There’s also reason to be concerned about a new wave of infections in the fall. So, we’re definitely not out of the woods yet.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.