• The U.S. on Thursday surpassed Italy to become the world's second most COVID-19 infected country
  • The U.S. is set to become the first country in the world to hit 100,000 confirmed infections
  • Critics are blaming the spread on Trump's downplaying of the coronavirus spread

The United States on Thursday passed Italy as the second most COVID-19 infected country in the world and later on the same day passed China to become the world's worst hit coronavirus country.

The U.S. was only the world's eighth most infected country on March 16. The first case of COVID-19 in the U.S. was confirmed on January 21. At the rate the infections are being uncovered, the U.S. later this month will become the first country to record 100,000 confirmed cases.

The unwanted "distinction" showing the United States as number one was confirmed by both the Center for Systems Science and Engineering (CSSE) at Johns Hopkins University and real-time data tracker, Worldometer. The rise in cases is again due to the ramped-up pace of testing in the U.S.

As of Thursday, 22:16 GMT, the U.S. registered 82,547 confirmed cases and 1,182 deaths, according to Worldometer. The U.S. added a massive 16,877 cases on Thursday alone compared to Wednesday -- the reason for the U.S. surpassing both Italy and China -- and 155 deaths. In contrast, China reported zero new cases and 81,285 confirmed cases while Italy admitted to 6,203 new cases and 80,589 total cases Thursday.

Johns Hopkins' CSSE reported 82,404 confirmed cases in the U.S., 81,782 in China and 80,589 in Italy as of 5:37 p.m. ET, March 26. It reported 528,198 confirmed cases worldwide.

Wednesday saw the country's confirmed COVID-19 cases swell to 65,527 and 928 deaths as of 22:44 GMT compared to the 53,205 cases and 687 deaths as of the same time Tuesday. On Wednesday, the U.S. reported 241 deaths due to COVID-19, which was then a new high in daily deaths.

On Wednesday, the U.S.' confirmed COVID-19 cases was the third largest in the world while its total deaths were the sixth largest in the world.

The grim skyrocketing of confirmed cases and deaths in the country has led commentators to resurrect Trump's comments repeatedly downplaying the seriousness of the threat posed by COVID-19.

On February 26, Trump unwisely declared: "And again, when you have 15 people and the 15 within a couple of days is going to be down to close to zero, that's a pretty good job we've done."

Two days later, Trump boasted: "It’s going to disappear. One day, it’s like a miracle, it will disappear.”

US President Donald Trump will join fellow world leaders at the emergency videoconference
US President Donald Trump will join fellow world leaders at the emergency videoconference AFP / MANDEL NGAN

Now, with the U.S. becoming the world's most COVID-19 infected country, Trump wants to ease federal guidelines on social distancing and re-open certain areas in the U.S. he claims aren't badly infected by the pandemic. Medical experts collectively oppose Trump's move, which he expounded on in a letter he sent to U.S. governors Wednesday.

The unprecedented spread of COVID-19 is being blamed on missteps by Trump and his repeated downplaying of the true extent of this crisis to bolster his reelection bid.

According to the New York Times, a series of missteps and lost opportunities is to blame for today's situation. Among these missteps is "a failure to take the pandemic seriously even as it engulfed China, a deeply flawed effort to provide broad testing for the virus that left the country blind to the extent of the crisis, and a dire shortage of masks and protective gear to protect doctors and nurses on the front lines, as well as ventilators to keep the critically ill alive."