United States tops 100,000 COVID-19 deaths

Two American TV anchors traded a series of ugly insults in a fiery on-air exchange as the United States surpassed 100,000 deaths from COVID-19.

CNBC “Squawk Box” anchors Andrew Ross Sorkin and Joe Kernen entered a shouting match, with Sorkin accusing Kernen of only “trying to help your friend the President” as the death toll continued to rise.

“You panicked about the market, panicked about COVID, panicked about the ventilators, panicked about the PPE, panicked about ever going out again, panicked if we’d ever get back to normal,” Kernan said.

Sorkin fired back saying, “You didn’t panic about anything!”

“100,000 people died, Joe. And all you did was try to help your friend the President! That’s what you did.”

“Every single morning on this show you have used and abused your position, Joe,” he added. “You have used and abused your position.”

Kernen defended himself, saying Sorkin’s characterisation of his positions “totally unfair”. Kernen retaliated saying he had simply been trying to advise investors to “keep their cool”.

The exchange came as more than 100,000 people have died from COVID-19 in the United States, according to a New York Times tally.

The country has what is by far the highest death toll in the world, and the highest number of confirmed cases with more than 1.6 million infections.

The pandemic is on track to be the country’s deadliest public health disaster since the 1918 flu pandemic, in which about 675,000 Americans died.

While the numbers of new cases and deaths have begun trending downward, health experts have warned there could be a resurgence as lockdowns are lifted.

While the daily death toll in hard-hit New York has fallen to levels not seen since March, there are persistently high cases in a number of other cities, including Chicago and Los Angeles.

Many public health experts, including Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, say the death toll is probably far higher than official counts, which doesn’t include people who haven’t been tested and dying at home.

The Times included cases identified by officials as “probable coronavirus patients”, but notes many states and counties only count deaths that were confirmed through testing.

It comes just two days after the newspaper went viral for its powerful front cover depicting 1000 deaths from the virus.

The terrible milestone comes amid debate over the timeliness of the nation’s response to the pandemic, with one Columbia University model showing that about 36,000 fewer people would have died if the United States had imposed social distancing measures earlier.

Mr Trump has defended his decision to play golf over the Memorial Day weekend amid the pandemic, during which he made no public mention of the rising death toll.

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