The US on Friday broke its daily record for new COVID-19 infections as it reported 84,218 new cases due to outbreaks in virtually every part of the country, according to a Reuters tally.
The spike in cases came less than two weeks before the US presidential election on Nov. 3 and is hitting battleground states such as Ohio, Michigan, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.
On Thursday, the US reported a near-record 76,195 new cases.
The previous record was 77,299 new cases on July 16. At the time, hospitalizations for COVID-19 patients hit 47,000 and two weeks later deaths rose to an average of 1,200 per day.
Now, hospitalizations are more than 41,000 and deaths average nearly 800 per day.
Sixteen states had record one-day increases in new cases on Friday and 11 reported a record number of hospitalized COVID-19 patients.
Health experts have not pinpointed the reason for the rise, but have long warned that colder temperatures driving people inside, fatigue with COVID-19 precautions and students returning to schools and colleges could promote the spread of the virus.
The US has the most cases in the world at 8.5 million and the most fatalities with nearly 224,000 lives lost. It has reported over the past week an average of 60,000 new cases per day, the highest seven-day average since early August.
The Midwest has been the epicenter of the latest surge, but infections are rising nationwide.
The northeast reported an 83 percent increase in cases in the past month.
New cases have doubled in Connecticut, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and New Jersey in the past four weeks compared with the prior four weeks, according to a Reuters analysis.
Western states including Montana, New Mexico and Wyoming have reported a 200 percent increase in cases in the past four weeks when compared with the previous four weeks.
It has been “several months” since US President Donald Trump met with the White House coronavirus task force, said US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Director Anthony Fauci, who has faced repeated criticism from the US president.
Fauci on Friday told MSNBC that the task force now meets about once a week, versus its daily gatherings early in the pandemic.
The team also holds a regular call with governors and its medical experts meet virtually as well, Fauci said.
However, Fauci said it had been “a while” since he had spoken with Trump directly about COVID-19 strategy, and that the US president is instead relying on White House adviser Scott Atlas, who has expressed skepticism about the benefit of wearing masks, urged the reopening of the country, and said it is preferable for young, healthy people to be exposed to the novel coronavirus.
“I definitely don’t have his ear as much as Scott Atlas right now, that has been a changing situation,” Fauci said.
“We certainly interact with the vice president at the task force meetings, and the vice president makes our feelings and what we talk about there known to the president,” he said.
Additional reporting by Bloomberg
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