With election looming, U.S. faces record surge of coronavirus cases
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[October 31, 2020]
By Lisa Shumaker and David Morgan
(Reuters) - A record surge of coronavirus
cases in the United States pushed hospitals closer to the brink of
capacity and drove the number of infections reported on Friday to an
ominous new daily world record of 100,000, four days before the U.S.
The United States also documented its 9 millionth case to date on
Friday, representing nearly 3% of the population, with almost 229,000
dead since the outbreak of the pandemic early this year, according to a
Reuters tally of publicly reported data.
With the country facing the final stretch of a tumultuous presidential
campaign dominated by the coronavirus pandemic, U.S. health authorities
on Friday also confirmed that 100,233 more people had tested positive
for COVID-19 over the past 24 hours.
Friday's tally set a new single-day record in U.S. cases for the fifth
time in the past 10 days, surpassing the previous peak of 91,248 new
infections posted a day earlier.
It also represented the world's highest national daily toll during the
pandemic, exceeding India's 24-hour record of 97,894 set in September.
The accelerating pace of U.S. infections continued as data trickled in
on Friday, with at least a dozen states individually 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
More than 1,000 people died of the virus on Thursday, the third time the
daily death toll had exceeded that number this month, and the pace of
fatalities is expected to continue rising. COVID claimed at least 926
more deaths on Friday.
The University of Washington's newly updated model projects the death
toll, which had been holding at a monthly pace of just over 22,000 for
most of October, will start climbing next month toward a new record of
more than 72,000 in January.
The January projection by the university's Institute for Health Metrics
and Evaluation would eclipse the nearly 61,000 fatalities in April when
the pandemic first exploded in the United States and overwhelmed
hospitals in New York City.
"Our hospitals cannot keep up with Utah's infection rate. You deserve to
understand the dire situation we face," Utah Governor Gary Herbert said
on Twitter, echoing officials in other states and public health experts.
'NOT QUITE PREPARED'
Ashish Jha, dean of the Brown University School of Public Health in
Providence, Rhode Island, said the country lacks adequate testing as the
infections erupt in different parts of the country.
"We are having some of the largest outbreaks that we've had during the
entire pandemic," Jha told Reuters in an interview. "And nine, 10 months
into this pandemic, we are still largely not quite prepared,"
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A man wearing a protective face mask due to the ongoing coronavirus
disease (COVID-19) outbreak walks by a closed establishment in
Flint, Michigan, U.S., October 28, 2020. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton
The pandemic remains a political football across the country,
including in El Paso, Texas, where the mayor refused to comply with
an order by the county's top executive to shut down non-essential
businesses, as infections rise and hospital capacity is stretched.
Mayor Dee Margo, noting that he had already reduced the capacity at
which businesses may operate, cited 32,000 jobless people and
148,000 relying on food banks in his city of 700,000.
"Struggling families should not have to choose between following
rules and putting food on the table,” he said at a press conference.
The county executive, Judge Ricardo Samaniego, said in a statement
that he was pursuing legal options to enforce his two-week shutdown
Trump has repeatedly played down the virus, saying for weeks that
the country is "rounding the turn," even as new cases and
hospitalizations soared. He maintained his upbeat tone in a tweet on
Friday, saying the country was doing much better than Europe had in
confronting the pandemic.
Biden and fellow Democrats in Congress have criticized the president
for his handling of the health crisis.
In the U.S. House of Representatives, Democrats released a report on
Friday 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
After his hospitalization with COVID-19 in early October, Trump
resumed the large campaign rallies that draw thousands of supporters
packed together, many not wearing masks. The Trump campaign says the
rallies are safe and that masks and social distancing are
A CNN investigation found that 14 out of 17 counties surveyed showed
an increased rate of new COVID-19 cases one month after hosting
(Reporting by Lisa Shumaker, David Morgan, Aleksandra Michalska,
Doina Chiacu, Anurag Maan; Writing by Daniel Trotta and Peter
Szekely; Editing by Frances Kerry, Howard Goller, Cynthia Osterman
and Jane Wardell)
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