HOUSTON: The coronavirus outbreak in the United States crossed a grim milestone of over three million confirmed cases as more states reported record numbers of new infections.
Authorities have reported alarming upswings of daily cases in roughly two dozen states over the past two weeks, a sign that efforts to control transmission of the novel coronavirus have failed in large parts of the country.
California, Hawaii, Idaho, Missouri, Montana, Oklahoma and Texas shattered their previous daily record highs for new cases. The biggest jumps occurred in Texas and California, the two largest US states, with more than 10,000 cases each.
About 24 states have reported disturbingly high infection rates as a percentage of diagnostic tests conducted over the past week. In Texas, the number of hospitalised patients more than doubled in just two weeks, while Florida faces an impending shortage of intensive care unit hospital beds.
The trend has driven many more Americans to seek out COVID-19 screenings. The US Department of Health and Human Services said it was adding short-term testing sites in three metropolitan areas in Florida, Louisiana and Texas.
In Houston, a line of more than 200 cars snaked around the United Memorial Medical Center as people waited hours in sweltering heat to get tested. Some had arrived the night before to secure a place in line at the drive-through site. In Florida, more than four dozen hospitals reported their intensive care units had reached full capacity.
Additional hospitalisations could strain healthcare systems in many areas, leading to an uptick in lives lost from the disease that has killed more than 131,000 Americans to date. At least 923 of those deaths were reported on Tuesday, the biggest single-day toll since June 10 but still far fewer than the record 2,806 in April.
The Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) projected that US deaths would reach 208,000 by 1st November, with the outbreak expected to gain new momentum in the fall season.
President Donald Trump, who has pushed for restarting the US economy and urged Americans to return to their normal routines, said he would support state governors to open schools. Speaking at the White House, Trump said some people wanted to keep schools closed for political reasons.
New COVID-19 infections are rising in 42 states and the number of confirmed cases had surpassed three million, affecting nearly one of every 100 Americans.
In Arizona, another hot spot, the rate of coronavirus tests coming back positive rose to 26 percent for the week ended July 5, leading two dozen states with positivity rates exceeding 5 percent, considered dangerous by the World Heath Organisation.
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