The US + Reported Cases Worldwide

Last updated October 26, 2020

We’ve pulled together some information about the current virus situation in the United States to provide some perspective (and ways to compare what it’s like at home vs what it’s like abroad).

Taking A Look At Reported Coronavirus Cases

We’ve heard a lot of numbers thrown around in the news throughout the pandemic. To put things into perspective, we put together this chart below that reflects some pretty interesting COVID-19 trends for the United States and Canada, a handful of US States, and countries where ILP has programs.

There are a couple of things that are really important to keep in mind: First, we want to look at the number of active cases per 100,000 population. Countries vary greatly in total population, and we feel reported numbers or cases aren’t accurately compared unless you factor in the population. For a country with a population of 100 million, 10,000 infections doesn’t hit as hard as it would hit a population of 200,000.

Second, we pay attention to the number of active or current cases. A very large number of people who had the virus in a location three months ago does not really pose a threat now. We’re actually a little puzzled at why most of the media looks at cumulative, historic case totals even if in some locations, 99% of those historic cases are no longer active and don’t represent any threat of contagion. Just looking at the total number of cumulative cases a country has had in the past few months doesn’t tell you much about how things are looking today. If a country got the virus later than others and had 0 cases in March and April but tens of thousands now, it is not safer than a country that had hundreds of thousands of cases in March and April, but has 0 cases now.

The chart below looks at current, active cases per 100,000 population.

Active Cases Per 100,000 Population

*Country numbers sourced from October 19th reports and individual State Health Department websites.

Virus Trends + Current Number Of Active Cases In The US

Currently, the United States has the highest number of total cases in the world and currently has the highest number of active cases per 100,000. Last reports had the United States coming in first, on a global scale with 877 active cases/100,000 population. By comparison, some of the countries we’re looking to send ILP volunteers to have just over 100.0, 30.0 or even 0.0 cases per 100,000.

On A State Level

Like other countries, the US is a big country, with virus trends that fluctuate according to where you’re living or visiting. Some US states have maintained low numbers and are looking like they’ll continue to do so, while others have seen dramatic spikes that keep going up and up.

If we assigned states our color-code system purely based on virus cases (and didn’t consider other factors), we’d have states in the Green (looking ready for a Spring 2021 program) while a handful of others would be in Yellow … still waiting for things to change before ILP semesters could head there. 

Every country is taking a different approach to shutdowns and restrictions

As this pandemic has spread across the globe, we’ve seen different countries establish policies to help slow the spread (with varied results). The US is taking a more relaxed approach compared to nations that took immediate action with strict quarantine policies. Others took additional measures which prevented foreigners from entering (or are still barring entry to foreigners). Just look at Vanuatu, a tiny island nation who hasn’t had a single case of COVID-19 or Thailand, who early on, was able to manage virus numbers and are rapidly returning to what life was like before the virus (with a few more precautions in place). 

In general, most ILP countries and quite a few vacation spots are open as far as businesses and tourist spots go. As we have been talking with our local contacts, they’ve been filling us in on what life is looking like where they live. In the majority of our countries, people are going out to restaurants and shopping at grocery stores, kids are attending schools, and friends are hanging out at cafes after ordering ice cream. Public transport is open, with locals zipping around on metros, buses, and trains, visiting favorite spots downtown and favorite spots across the country. We’ve had a handful of our Local Coordinators tell us about the vacations they’ve been taking in-country: visiting the beach, staying at hotels, and peeking into museums. As we’re seeing states in the US open up, we’re seeing that level of daily life returning to so many of the cities and countries we love.

We’ve outlined details of what daily life is looking like for each of our ILP locations on unique, country-specific pages. Check those out to get more information — just head to our main page and click on the country you’d like to read more about.