The US had its biggest one-day increase in coronavirus cases since the start of the pandemic, recording 62,000 infections on Wednesday in a sign that a series of new restrictions has failed to snuff out the outbreak.
The 62,117 new cases shattered Friday’s record of 57,562 and took the nationwide tally to more than 3m cases since the pandemic began, according to the Covid Tracking Project. It was accompanied by data showing that the number of fatalities was also beginning to rise after weeks of trending lower.
The White House has sought to temper concerns over the month-long outbreak in the US south and west by noting it has not been accompanied by a rise in coronavirus-related deaths, which was the hallmark of earlier phases of the pandemic.
But according to the Covid Tracking Project, the US recorded about 900 deaths on Wednesday, the second day of such numbers in a row, up from just 242 on Monday. Texas, which recorded about 10,000 new cases for the second consecutive day on Wednesday, reported 98 deaths that day, a sharp increase from a record 60 tallied on Tuesday.
Despite the alarming data, Mike Pence, the US vice-president who chairs the White House coronavirus task force, said the US was starting to see the first indications that “mitigation efforts” were working in emerging hotspots. He added that the rates of tests coming back positive in Arizona, Florida and Texas were beginning to flatten.
“We believe the takeaway from this for every American, particularly in those states that are impacted, is: keep doing what you’re doing, because we’re starting to see the first indications that . . . we’re putting into practice those mitigation efforts and we’re beginning to see indications that they are having a good effect,” Mr Pence said.
Wednesday’s record tally was led by California, which recorded the US’s largest one-day jump in infections since the start of the pandemic.
Gavin Newsom, California’s governor, cautioned that the state’s one-day record increase of 11,694 cases — more than the 11,571 infections recorded by New York at the height of its April outbreak — was driven in part by a backlog of test results from Los Angeles county, which has been one of the hardest-hit parts of the state.
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Still, in California the number of coronavirus-related hospitalisations reached a high, as did 10 other states, including Texas, Arizona and Georgia. The number of hospitalisations nationwide jumped to more than 43,000, levels not seen since mid-May. Florida reported nearly 10,000 new Covid-19 cases, while Arizona tallied another 3,520.
Mr Pence said the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention would revise its guidance on safely reopening schools, after a previous iteration incurred the wrath of President Donald Trump, who called them “very tough and expensive guidelines”.
Mr Trump claimed Democrats were trying to keep schools closed because they thought it would hurt his chances at re-election in November. He threatened to cut federal aid from schools that refused to comply and reopen.
Mr Pence acknowledged that schools could not simultaneously follow the current CDC guidelines on social distancing while reopening their doors in the autumn to all students.
Just weeks before the new term begins, schools around the country are still wrestling with how to bring pupils back on site safely.
Florida’s governor announced on Monday that all schools in the state would reopen next month. Bill de Blasio, New York City’s mayor, said on Wednesday that with parents eager to get their children back in the classroom, the city planned to introduce a mix of online and in-person instruction, with most children coming to school about two days a week.
Andrew Cuomo, New York state’s governor, said he expected to announce a decision for statewide schools in the coming weeks.
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