SPRINGFIELD, MA (WGGB/WSHM) -- The United States are now the country with the most cases of the coronavirus, surpassing Italy and China.

That's according to Johns Hopkins University.

Western Mass News spoke with local scientists and medical experts: Dr. Erika Hamilton, a microbiologist at UMass Amherst, and Dr. Robert Roose, Chief Medical Officer at Mercy Medical Center.

Both doctors said they’re not surprised about this at all. They add that the number of cases will continue to rise.

According to Johns Hopkins University, the United States now has nearly 84,000 coronavirus cases.

That’s almost 2,000 more than China and just about 3,000 more than Italy.

"We do have a big country. We have a lot of people who move around frequently. I think we got hit at an inopportune time," Dr. Hamilton said.

The U.S. may have the most cases, but the percentage of deaths from the coronavirus is one point four percent. By comparison, China is four percent. Italy is at 10 percent.

Dr. Hamilton, a microbiologist at UMass Amherst, believes Italy’s death rate is high because of its demographic.

"They have an older population than we do. The average person age in Italy is older than us. They have a higher number of people than we do of folks in their 70s, 80s, and 90s," Dr. Hamilton explained.

The first case of the coronavirus in the U.S. was reported about two months ago.

Now being the world leader in cases, health experts, including Dr. Roose said the numbers won’t stop there.

"If we think about the spread of a virus-like this. There will be a period in which the slope of that curve continues to increase and then we would hit a peak. It could plateau and then would slowly decrease over time.  Right now, we're still on a rise," Dr. Roose explained.

Dr. Roose said the reason the virus spread so fast is that it’s easy to catch.

"Little particles that come out when people cough or sneeze, they can be inhaled, or they can land on surfaces. If those droplets end up in someone's eyes, nose, or mouth, that can cause transmission," Dr. Roose explained.

The only way to stop the virus from spreading is to practice social distancing and only leave home if you have to.

"Once you put in significant efforts to quarantine and social distance, the number of overall cases will start to go down. And then you will have fewer and fewer people that are still active with the virus that can transmit to other people," Dr. Roose explained.

According to Johns Hopkins, the U.S., China, and Italy all have more than 80,000 cases.

After that, only Spain and Germany have more than 40,000 cases.

Copyright 2020 Western Mass News (Meredith Corporation).  All rights reserved.

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