NEW YORK: The United States passed nine million reported coronavirus cases as infections spike days before the nation chooses its next president.
A record surge of coronavirus cases in the United States is pushing hospitals to the brink of capacity and killing up to 1,000 people a day as the country’s attention turns toward the presidential election.
The United States recorded its 9 millionth case, nearly 3 percent of the population, with almost 229,000 dead since the outbreak of the pandemic early this year.
The country broke its single-day record for new coronavirus infections on Thursday, reporting at least 91,248 new cases. The accelerating pace of infections continued as data trickled in with 12 states reporting a record number of new daily cases.
Serious cases of COVID-19 were on the rise as well, as hospitals in six states reported having the most patients suffering from the disease since the pandemic started. The number of hospitalized COVID-19 patients has risen over 50% in October to 46,000, the highest since mid-August.
Among the hard-hit states are those most hotly contested in the campaign between Republican President Donald Trump and Democratic challenger Joe Biden such as Michigan, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.
For the third time this month, more than 1,000 people died of the virus on Thursday, and the pace of fatal cases is expected to continue rising. New York and other parts of the northeast are also seeing a worrying rise in infections as cooler fall weather sets in.
With four days to go until the election, Donald Trump is battling to hold on to the White House against challenger Joe Biden, who has slammed the president’s virus response. Trump has downplayed the virus even as the toll has been accelerating once more, holding a slew of rallies with little social distancing or mask use.
He has repeatedly told supporters that the country is “rounding the curve” on COVID infections. He maintained his upbeat tone in a tweet on Friday, saying the country was doing much better than Europe had in confronting the pandemic.
Trump has repeatedly played down the virus, saying for weeks that the country is “rounding the turn,” even as new cases and hospitalisations soared. Biden and fellow Democrats in Congress have criticized the president for his handling of the health crisis.
In the US House of Representatives, Democrats released a report condemning the Trump administration’s pandemic response as being “among the worst failures of leadership in American history.” At least 6 million Americans have been thrust into poverty and millions more are jobless, it said.
The 71-page interim report by Democratic staff of the House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis also said investigators identified more than 60 instances in which Trump administration officials overruled or sidelined top scientists to advance the president’s political interests.
“The administration’s response to this economic crisis has benefited larger companies and wealthy Americans, while leaving behind many disadvantaged communities and struggling small businesses,” the report said