WASHINGTON: More than 60,500 new COVID-19 infections were reported across the United States on Thursday, setting a new one-day record of the respiratory disease.
The total represents a slight rise from Wednesday, when there were 60,000 new cases, and marks the largest one-day increase by any country since the outbreak emerged and has become increasingly politicised.
As infections rose in 41 of the 50 states over the last two weeks, Americans have become increasingly divided on issues such as the reopening of schools and businesses. Orders by governors and local leaders mandating face masks have become particularly divisive.
Florida announced nearly 9,000 new cases and 120 new coronavirus deaths, a record daily increase in lives lost. Governor Ron DeSantis called the rising cases a “blip” and urged residents not to be afraid.
“I know we’ve had a lot of different blips,” DeSantis said. “We’re now at a higher blip than where we were in May and the beginning of June.”
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Florida is one of the few states that does not disclose the number of hospitalized COVID patients. More than four dozen Florida hospitals reported their intensive care units reached full capacity earlier this week.
Director of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Dr Robert Redfield said that keeping schools closed would be a greater risk to children’s health than reopening them.
California and Texas, the two most populous states, announced record increases in COVID deaths on Wednesday. California has seen cases and hospitalisations surge, even though it imposed one of the strictest lockdowns.
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After several lawmakers and staffers at the state capitol in Sacramento were infected, lawmakers said the legislature would not return from summer break until July 27.
Governors in California, Florida and Texas have either ruled out forced business closures and quarantines or called them a last resort. Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti warned he would impose a new stay-at-home order in two weeks if the latest surge did not ease.
The rise in infections also weighed on the stock market Thursday on fears of new lockdowns, which would take a toll on the economic recovery.