• The World Health Organization predicts the U.S. will replace China as the most COVID-19 infected country in the world
  • WHO sees a “very large acceleration” in coronavirus infections in the United States
  • China reported 81,171 cases Tuesday, an increase of only 78 cases from Monday
  • The U.S. reported 53,443 cases Tuesday, an increase of more than 9,000 from Monday

The United States is well on its way to becoming the world's new COVID-19 epicenter replacing China, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), and a further spike in cases and deaths Tuesday seems to confirm this prediction.

WHO sees a "very large acceleration" in coronavirus infections in the United States, which it said shows the potential of becoming the new global COVID-19 pandemic epicenter. Over the past 24 hours, 85% of new cases were from the U.S. and Europe, according to WHO spokeswoman Margaret Harris. Of this total, 40% was from the United States.

"We are now seeing a very large acceleration in cases in the U.S. So it does have that potential," said Harris. "They (the United States) have a very large outbreak and an outbreak that is increasing in intensity."

Harris also confirmed the global pandemic is accelerating very rapidly. She expects large increases in case numbers and deaths from the current 334,981 cases and 14,510 deaths, as recorded by WHO. This horrific forecast was made on the same day president Donald Trump said he wanted to loosen social distancing and lockdown restrictions to get Americans back to work by Easter.

The U.S. had 53,443 confirmed COVID-19 cases (third largest in the world) and 696 deaths (sixth largest in the world) as of Tuesday, 23:47 GMT, according to Worldometer. It added 9,709 cases over the past 24 hours, the largest number in the world. The 696 deaths Tuesday compares to the 545 deaths in the same time Monday, or an increase of 151 deaths in a single day.

The new total U.S. cases -- which is due to the accelerated testing pace -- accounted for 23% of 42,178 new cases worldwide, according to Worldometer. There were 421,023 coronavirus cases worldwide and 18,802 deaths, as of Tuesday, 23:51 GMT.

On the other hand, the Center for Systems Science and Engineering (CSSE) at Johns Hopkins University reported 53,660 cases in the U.S. as of 6:47 p.m. ET, Tuesday. It listed the global case infection total at 417,582 with total deaths at 18,612.

In contrast to the spiking cases in the U.S., numbers for China remain low. China reported 81,171 cases Tuesday, an increase of only 78 cases from Monday and 3,277 deaths, of which only seven were recorded Tuesday.

Mayor Bill de Blasio warned New York was just at "the beginning" of dealing with the epidemic
Mayor Bill de Blasio warned New York was just at "the beginning" of dealing with the epidemic AFP / Angela Weiss

New York State and New York City remain the epicenters of the pandemic in the U.S. New York State saw its COVID-19 case total soar to 25,665 on Tuesday as the death toll increased to 210.

"The apex is higher than we thought and the apex is sooner than we thought," said Gov. Andrew Cuomo. "That is a bad combination of facts."

He also noted the state's rate of infection is doubling every three days.

"We're not slowing it -- and it is accelerating on its own. We're not looking at a freight train. We're looking at a bullet train, because the numbers are going up that quickly."

New York City reports more than 14,900 cases alone. It added another 2,500 overnight while its death toll jumped to at least 131. The five NYC boroughs now account for 60% of the state's total and about 35% of all cases in the U.S.

NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio said the idea the city can return to normal in April is “absolutely inconceivable," in reference to Trump's insistence he wanted to get the U.S. back to business by Easter, which occurs April 12. He believes April will be “unquestionably worse” than March and fears May might be worse than April.

The neighboring states of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut are on "pause" due to the pandemic. They've collectively shut down all non-essential businesses and have enacted tougher density control and social distancing measures to keep the infections spread to a minimum.

As of Tuesday, more than 29,745 people in the three states tested positive for COVID-19. There are 264 fatalities. New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy called Tuesday's toll "by far our largest single-day report of new deaths." New Jersey now has the second largest number of cases in the U.S. It has 3,675 cases, up 831 from Monday and 44 deaths, an increase of 17 from Monday. The top five COVID-19 infected states are New York, New Jersey, California, Washington and Michigan.

Coronavirus cases in Louisiana, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Florida and Georgia are quickly rising, according to CNN's state-by-state count of positive cases reported by state and local health departments. Michigan's cases increased from only 65 week ago to 1,328 on Tuesday afternoon, including 15 deaths.

Louisiana, which reported no cases until mid-March, broke past the 1,000-mark and saw more than 500 new cases reported just since the weekend. It had 1,388 cases and 46 deaths by Tuesday afternoon. Pennsylvania reported more than 200 cases overnight, bringing the total to 851 cases on Tuesday. Seven people have died.

Florida and Georgia both exceeded 1,000 cases over the weekend. Both are seeing a huge 20% daily jump in their number of confirmed cases. As of Tuesday afternoon, Florida had 1,324 cases and 17 deaths, while Georgia reported 1,026 cases and 32 deaths. Indiana went from just a few cases a week ago to 365 Tuesday afternoon.