U.S. reports 55,000 COVID-19 cases in single day; hits new global record

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The United States reported more than 55,000 new COVID-19 cases on Thursday, a new daily global record for the coronavirus pandemic, as infections rose in a majority of states.

A surge in coronavirus cases over the past week has put President Donald Trump’s handling of the crisis under the microscope and led several governors to halt plans to reopen their states after strict lockdowns.

The daily U.S. tally stood at 55,274 late Thursday, topping the previous single-day record of 54,771 set by Brazil on June 19.

Coronavirus cases are rising in 37 out of 50 U.S. states including Florida, which confirmed more than 10,000 new cases on Thursday. That marked the state’s largest daily spike so far and a level that exceeded single-day tallies from any European country at the height of the outbreak there.

California, another epicenter, saw positive tests climb 37% with hospitalizations up 56% over the past two weeks.

Texas Governor Greg Abbott, a Republican who has previously resisted calls to make face masks mandatory, on Thursday ordered them to be worn in all counties with over 20 coronavirus cases.

“In the past few weeks, there has been a swift and substantial spike in coronavirus cases,” Abbott said in a videotaped message. “We need to refocus on slowing the spread. But this time, we want to do it without closing down Texas again.”

Texas reported nearly 8,000 new cases on Thursday.

New infections were rising in 37 out of 50 U.S. states in the past 14 days compared with the two weeks prior, according to a Reuters analysis. The United States has now recorded nearly 129,000 deaths, nearly a quarter of the known global total.

The wave of new cases has several governors halting or back-pedaling on plans to reopen their states after months of strict lockdowns, closing beaches and canceling fireworks displays over the upcoming Independence Day weekend.

“We are not out of this crisis. We are still in the first wave of this crisis. It requires some level of personal responsibility,” California Governor Gavin Newsom, a Democrat, said at a daily briefing on the pandemic.

Earlier on Thursday, Kansas required face coverings after a 46% spike in infections there last week.

Joe Biden, Trump’s expected rival for the presidency in November, slammed him on Thursday.

“Quit claiming victory with almost 15 million Americans still out of work because of the crisis. Quit ignoring the reality of this pandemic and the horrifying loss of American life,” Biden said in a campaign speech.

U.S. Vice President Mike Pence was in Florida on Thursday, where he met with Governor Ron DeSantis and expressed support for the governor’s “prudent steps” to slow the spread of the virus.

Earlier, Pence said he and Trump supported decisions to pause reopenings but added that he saw no need for a national mandate for face coverings.

While some of the increases may be explained by expanded testing, other indicators are grim, too, including hospitalizations and positive test rates. Over the past two weeks, the percentage of positive tests has doubled in Georgia, Kansas, Montana, Michigan, Missouri, Tennessee, Mississippi, South Carolina and Ohio. In Nevada, it has tripled. In Idaho, it is five times higher.

In Texas, where cases in the past two weeks have swelled from around 2,400 a day to almost 8,100 on Wednesday, the positive rate ballooned from 8% to 14.5%. In Arizona, it has gone from 5.7% to 10.3%.

Florida reported more than 10,000 new cases for the first time Thursday. That is six times higher than the daily count of less than a month ago. The state also reported 67 deaths for the second time in a week and 325 new hospitalizations, one of the biggest 24-hour jumps in Florida yet. Georgia likewise saw its biggest single-day increase yet, nearly 3,500 cases.

“I’m discouraged because we didn’t act fast enough to shut things down, and we could have done a much better job getting a handle on the virus,” said Megan Archer, a 39-year-old woman from West Palm Beach, Florida, who lost her job with a county parks department during the outbreak.

Several Northeastern states have seen new infections slow down significantly, including New York, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island and New Jersey, which allowed its Atlantic City casinos to reopen Thursday, though with no smoking, drinking or eating.

Pennsylvania, an outlier among Northeastern states, reported its highest one-day total of new cases since May, with more than 830, over one-quarter of them in Pittsburgh’s Allegheny County.

Other states, like Colorado, a major summer destination where increases in infections have been less dramatic, are keeping a close eye on their neighbors.

“I’ve been watching that map. … We’re well aware of what’s going on around us and we’re very anxious,” said Dr. Michelle Barron, medical director of infection prevention and control at UCHealth University of Colorado Hospital. “The next couple of weeks are critical.”

President Donald Trump on Wednesday seemed confident the virus would soon subside, telling Fox Business: “I think that, at some point, that’s going to sort of just disappear, I hope.”

The U.S. has reported at least 2.7 million cases and more than 128,000 dead, the highest toll in the world. Globally there have been 10.7 million confirmed cases and over 517,000 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins’ count. The true toll is believed to be significantly higher, in part because of limited testing and mild cases that have been missed.

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