The United States has quickly become the epicentre of the COVID-19 pandemic.
More than 2,500 Americans have lost their lives due to the illness since the pandemic broke out, according to Johns Hopkins University. There are more than 143,000 cases of the novel coronavirus in the U.S. as of Sunday night, more than China or Italy.
Simply by virtue of its size — the U.S. has 8.7 times as many people as Canada — the country was all but destined to have many more cases than Canada.
But the outbreak has gone far beyond that.
COVID-19 has brought the hardest-hit state of New York to a standstill. More than 1,000 people have died. Despite having a little over half the Canadian population, New York has more than 59,500 cases.
That’s more than nine times as many as Canada, which has about 7,405 confirmed cases, including 74 deaths.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo said worst-case scenario projections show New York would require 140,000 hospital beds and 30,000 ventilators in order to handle the peak of the outbreak.
What went wrong in the U.S. — and what was different in Canada?
While there have been widespread concerns about the availability of coronavirus testing in both countries, U.S. officials have faced sharp criticism for not making tests widely available until far too long after the virus arrived from China early this year.
A report in the New York Times concluded the failure was due to several factors, including technical issues, bureaucracy and a “lack of leadership at multiple levels.”
“The result was a lost month, when the world’s richest country — armed with some of the most highly trained scientists and infectious disease specialists — squandered its best chance of containing the virus’s spread. Instead, Americans were left largely blind to the scale of a looming public health catastrophe,” stated the report, which was based on 50 interviews.
Paul Offit, an infectious disease expert at the University of Pennsylvania, said the severity of the novel coronavirus was “largely ignored” by the U.S. government until there was already community spread.