The tracking of the global coronavirus pandemic is like an evil horse race between 177 countries. China was first out of the gate and the early “leader” surging to about 82,000 cases and 3,308 deaths. But like a horse coming up lame (a good thing in this case) China has faded while European countries and the U.S. are overtaking the Communist giant.

The current leader in confirmed cases is the U.S. with 143,000 confirmed cases and 2,488 deaths, according to Worldometers, a Shanghai, China-based reference website.

The numbers are sure to rise with some predicting 200,000 deaths based on current trends and President Donald Trump’s decision to extend federal guidelines on “social distancing” until the end of April.

On Sunday, Trump told reporters, "The modeling estimates that the peak in death rate is likely to hit in two weeks. So, I'll say it again, the peak, the highest point of death rates, remember, this is likely to hit in two weeks. Therefore, the next two weeks and during this period it's very important that everyone strongly follow the guidelines. The better you do, the faster this whole nightmare will end. Therefore, we will be extending our guidelines to April 30th to slow the spread."

The numbers from Italy are enigmatic with cases approaching 100,000 and a death count at 10,779 or 11% compared to the global death rate of about 4.7%.

More curious is the rate of new cases. The U.S. skyrocketed from less than 1,000 new cases per day before March 16 to nearly 20,000 on March 28. Italy reached the 1,000 per day count on March 7 to a high of 6,557 on March 21 but the count of new daily cases has averaged about 5,500 every day since then, comparable to a steady gallop in a horse race.

The next few days will be interesting in that the population of the U.S. is about 5.5 times that of Italy. A comparative plateau of daily new cases in the U.S. would be about 30,000. The hope is that the U.S. comes up “lame” like China instead of galloping along like Italy.

The pandemic in Spain, France, Germany, and the UK seems to be tracking on a pace like Italy, but it is too early in the “race” to make any conclusions. South America, African, Australia, and India have been only lightly affected so far, according to the Johns Hopkins map of Coronavirus COVID-19 Global Cases.

That same Johns Hopkins map shows very few cases in Russia and no data for North Korea. This may indicate that there is at least one “dark horse” waiting to emerge from the pack.