South Korean President Moon Jae-in (Image: EPA/Kim Min-hee/ POOL)

More than 100,000 Americans have died of the coronavirus. The mystery behind a 30-year-old man’s death in a small Queensland mining town. And more clues from South Korea about the winding road ahead. 

America hits a tragic milestone

Yesterday, the United States’ COVID-19 death toll passed 100,000. And while only time will really tell just how much this tragic loss of life will change the country, it’s worth putting that figure in perspective.

More Americans have died of the virus than died in the Korea and Vietnam wars combined. It’s taken more lives than domestic terrorism, several times over.

No other country’s death toll even gets close. And while it’s hard to comprehend mass death on that scale, this chilling New York Times infographic, run alongside a stunning front page, give us some sense of what that looks like.

Australia’s youngest death

Nathan Turner, 30, is the youngest person in Australia to die of COVID-19.

But how Turner contracted the disease is a tragic mystery. A miner, he hadn’t been at work since November, and hadn’t left Central Queensland town of Blackwater since February.

He’d been suffering from other health conditions, and it was only a postmortem that showed he had COVID-19. Blackwater hasn’t recorded a single other case, although a nurse who travelled there also tested positive earlier this month. There’s no evidence she came into contact with Turner.

The town has hastily built a clinic to test the population. 

Will South Korea return to lockdown?

South Korea, which did many of the same things right as Australia, just weeks ahead of us, has always been the country to watch closely for clues about our road out of lockdown.

And on the evidence, it looks like that road won’t exactly be smooth. Yesterday, South Korea recorded its biggest jump in new cases in 49 days. Of those 40 cases, 36 were linked to the logistics centre for an Amazon-like e-commerce company where employees had been working tirelessly to keep up with the surge in home deliveries during lockdown.

It’s believed the first case at the centre was connected to a cluster that emerged from a nightclub earlier this month. That small outbreak of cases caused nightclubs to close down almost as soon as they’d reopened.

It’s worth thinking carefully about these outbreaks as Australia opens up, and restaurants and bars slowly fill up again. This is probably what the next stage of our pandemic looks like — clusters popping up here and there, much like Cedar Meats in Melbourne.