US sets world record with over 77,000 new infections in one day
The US has broken its highest daily record for new coronvirus infections, reporting 77,255 fresh cases in the space of 24 hours on Thursday.
That is the highest one-day total for any country during the pandemic and beats the previous US daily record by almost 10,000.
The US is by far the worst-affected country worldwide in terms of the number of cases and deaths, with more than 3.5m confirmed infections and more than 138,000 fatalities.
Another 943 deaths were reported on Thursday, with Florida and Texas both suffering record tolls.
States across the south and west have been particularly hard hit, with teams of military medics deployed in Texas and California to help hospitals facing staff shortages amid an overwhelming rise in cases.
In Houston, Texas, an 86-person army medical team worked to take over a wing of United Memorial medical center. The state reported 10,000 new cases for the third day on Thursday, and 129 additional deaths.
The hardest-hit areas in Texas and Arizona are running out of places to store bodies as their morgues fill up and are bringing in coolers and refrigerated trailers.
Meanwhile Florida is fast becoming the new epicentre of the US outbreak, with a record 156 deaths announced on Thursday alongside 13,965 new positive test results.
Florida governor, Republican Ron DeSantis, moved quickly to reopen the state and has not followed the lead of other hard-hit states like California and Texas in making masks mandatory in indoor spaces.
In late June, in a partial reversal, DeSantis ordered bars to again be closed in an effort to curb the spread of the disease, but the numbers have continued to rise.
This pattern is being mirrored elsewhere. The US was averaging 724 deaths a day on Monday this week, up from below 500 at the start of July. Although that is significantly less than the 2,200 deaths recorded each day during the deadliest phase of the outbreak in April, 23 states are reporting more deaths each day than they were two weeks ago, according to a Times database.
As the US outbreak takes a turn for the worse, the national debate over wearing face masks is intensifying. Less than half of the 50 states have adopted requirements for wearing masks or other facial coverings, despite calls from public health experts that they should be mandatory.
The US’ top infectious diseases expert, Dr Antoni Fauci, has recently come under attack from the White House. On Sunday an official shared a list detailing past apparent erroneous comments made by him.
Fauci defended himself at a virtual forum at Georgetown University in Washington this week.
‘I believe for the most part you can trust respected medical authorities,’he said.
‘I believe I’m one of them, so I think you can trust me. But I would stick with respected medical authorities who have a track record of telling the truth, who have a track record of giving information and policy and recommendations based on scientific evidence and good data.’
With the November election fast approaching, President Donald Trump has found his approval ratings drop.
A Washington Post-ABC News poll found that 38% of Americans approve of his handling of the pandemic, down from 46% in May and 51% in March. At this same time, his disapproval ratings have climbed up to 60%, from 53% in May and 45% in March.