(CNN) — The US topped 5 million cases of coronavirus early Sunday — and as experts have highlighted before, the true number of infections could be many times higher.

The number means the country holds about a quarter of global cases of the virus and also tops the list with the most reported deaths in the world. Of the country’s 5,036,387 estimated cases, 162,851 have been deadly, according to data collected by John Hopkins University.

To put the number in perspective, that means the United States has had more COVID-19 cases than Ireland has people. The number of cases is also slightly higher than the entire population of Alabama.

To put the speed in which the number is growing in perspective: It took the country 99 days to reach 1 million, 43 days to hit 2 million, 28 days for 3 million and 15 days to surpass 4 million on July 23. The number has jumped to 5 million in 17 days.

“This is such a sobering number,” said Dr. William Schaffner, a professor of infectious diseases at Vanderbilt University.

“That’s a huge number of cases and a very large number of hospitalizations and deaths — and more to come,” Schaffner said. “Because over much of this country, this virus is spreading unimpeded because so many folks are not getting with the program to contain it.”

The pandemic shows no sign of slowing, and deaths continue to climb, with more than 1,000 deaths reported each day over the past five days, according to data from Johns Hopkins University’s COVID Tracker. Since July 21, there have been only four days the US did not report more than 1,000 deaths.

As of this week, five states account for more than 40% of US infections: California (with the most cases in the country), Florida, Texas, New York and Georgia.

New York, once the country’s epicenter, has been surpassed by several states that have seen cases spikes in recent months. On Sunday, the state reported the day prior’s positivity rate — how many people are testing positive compared to how many were tested — was 0.78%, the lowest one-day positive infection rate since the pandemic began, according to the governor’s office.

“Our daily numbers remain low and steady, despite increasing infection rates across the country, and even in our region — and we had the lowest one-day positive rate since we started,” Gov. Andrew Cuomo said in a statement Sunday. “That’s an incredible achievement, all thanks to the hard work of New Yorkers.”

Florida reported 6,190 new cases on Sunday — the 13th consecutive day the state reported more than 6,000 cases, according to CNN’s tally. There are more than 527,000 cases among residents in the state, according to the state Department of Health.

California, reporting more than 7,000 cases Saturday for a total of more than 545,000, had a positivity rate of about 6% over the past two weeks, according to health officials. Hospitalizations across the state are dropping, and there are about 5,746 hospitalized patients — down more than 1,000 from two weeks ago.

In Texas, the governor extended his disaster declaration as the state reported its highest seven-day positivity rate: 19.41%. The previous high, 17.43%, was recorded around mid-July. More than 481,000 infections have been reported statewide and about 7,872 people remain in hospitals.

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  1. Orlin says:

    Why does the media use the number of cases as a metric? It is unreliable and depends on how many people are tested. The only reliable metric is deaths per million.
    If you use this metric, all 10 states with most deaths per million are governed by Democrats.
    1. New Jersey – 1795
    2. New York – 1688
    3. Massachusetts – 1267
    4. Connecticut – 1246
    5. Rhode Island – 958
    6. Louisiana – 922
    7. DC – 837
    8. Michigan – 653
    9. Mississippi – 642
    10. Illinois – 619

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