How badly has Covid hit America and what is being done to control it?

  • Video report by ITV News Correspondent Emma Murphy

Coronavirus has struck at the very heart of American power as US president Donald Trump and his wife Melania are revealed to have tested positive for Covid-19.

As it reaches the White House, how has Covid-19 affected ordinary Americans?

How many Americans have died and how many are infected?

As of the beginning of October, seven million Americans had tested positive for coronavirus, that's 2,180 cases per 100,000; 206,402 had died, the highest death toll in the world.

What are the coronavirus rules and regulations in America?

That depends where you are; there are no federal rules, each state, each county within a state and, in some cases individual cities, have the power to make their own regulations.

As a result, guidelines vary widely across state lines, although there are some broad country-wide regulations that span both coasts, such as not visiting care homes, avoiding gatherings of more than 10 people and limiting non-urgent travel.

Some said Donald Trump made the decision to open up America too soon. Credit: AP

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advises Americans to wear face coverings, and they have been mandatory in some states since April.

But the use of mandatory face coverings has prompted a backlash, with some Americans viewing them as a breach of their freedom (a view seemingly shared by their President - at least at one point).

And people travelling from states with significant community spread of the virus must quarantine for 14 days when visiting another state.

Schools in New York can open this autumn but must have test and trace in place. Credit: AP


With one of the highest death tolls in the country, California is taking a very cautious approach to reopening after months of restrictions.

People in California must wear face coverings when they are are work, and visitor attractions, including Disneyland, have not been allowed to open.

Under pressure from the hospitality industry, California Gov. Gavin Newsom says he will provide an update "very, very shortly" on reopening the sector.

An American flag is unfurled at the Pentagon. Credit: AP

New York:

New York State law requires everyone over the age of two to wear a face covering when in public in situations when they are unable to maintain at least six feet (1.8 metres) from others.

Schools across New York State are permitted to open this autumn, but must have a testing and tracing plan.

Indoor dining in New York City was allowed to reopen from September 30 with a 25% occupancy but is subject to strict safety protocols.  

California has been badly hit by the virus. Credit: AP


Face coverings have been mandatory in the state since July.

After a big spike in cases in the summer that saw restrictions tightened, Gov. Greg Abbott announced in September that most areas of the state will be able to loosen some of these coronavirus restrictions, including retail stores, restaurants and office buildings, which have been open at 50% capacity, being permitted to expand to 75% capacity.

Bars, however, remain closed.


The Pacific island will reopen to tourists on 15 October. Visitors will not have to quarantine for a 14-days if they test negative for the coronavirus 72 hours before arrival.

The famous giant Big Tex wears a face mask at Fair Park in Dallas. Credit: AP

What has been the worst hit state?

New York was the original epicentre of the US outbreak, and, with 33,159 deaths tops America's grim tally of coronavirus-related fatalities.

Other badly hit states include (figures from January 2020):

  • New Jersey: 205,889 cases; 16,140 deaths

  • Texas: 776,736 cases; 16,130

  • California: 822,775 cases; 15,992, deaths

  • Florida: 709,144 cases; 14,444

Louisiana and Mississippi have fared worse when the figures are broken down by cases per 100,000, with 3,614 and 3,323 respectively.

A cyclist on an empty Hawaiian beach in April. Credit: AP

Is the outbreak easing off?

Cases rose in some states dramatically after many eased restrictions in the summer. They have fallen since the peak, but there have been at least 847 new coronavirus deaths and 46,398 new cases reported in the United States as of 1 October, with a spike the Midwest and parts of the West. Over the past week, there have been an average of 43,431 cases per day, that's an increase of 8% from the average two weeks earlier.

At the height of infections in late July, the country was averaging well over 60,000 cases a day, but it's clear the situation remains unstable. Where are they with a vaccine?Top US coronavirus expert Dr Anthony Fauci is “cautiously optimistic” there will be an effective vaccine by Christmas.

Speaking to ITV News’ Tom Bradby in September, the head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases said it has projected a safe and effective vaccine could be available by November and December this year.

He was careful not to give a guarantee on this but said it was “conceivable”, although he believes “unlikely” we will know earlier, possibly at the end of October, that a vaccine will be available to the public.

Four Covid-19 vaccine candidates are in Phase 3 clinical testing in the United States just over eight months after the disease was identified.