US reports world's largest ever daily increase in coronavirus cases

A healthcare worker tending to a patient in the Covid-19 Unit at United Memorial Medical Centre in Houston, Texas, on Thursday, when the state recorded its second-worst day of the pandemic with 7,915 new cases. Governor Greg Abbott ordered face masks
A healthcare worker tending to a patient in the Covid-19 Unit at United Memorial Medical Centre in Houston, Texas, on Thursday, when the state recorded its second-worst day of the pandemic with 7,915 new cases. Governor Greg Abbott ordered face masks to be worn in all counties with more than 20 coronavirus cases and barred people from gathering in groups larger than 10. PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

Figure surpasses the previous single-day record of 54,771 set by Brazil on June 19

WASHINGTON • The United States reported more than 55,000 new Covid-19 cases on Thursday, a new daily global record for the coronavirus pandemic, as infections rose in a majority of states.

A surge in coronavirus cases over the past week has put President Donald Trump's handling of the crisis under the microscope and led several state governors to halt plans to reopen their economies after strict lockdowns.

The daily US tally stood at 55,274 late on Thursday, topping the previous single-day record of 54,771 set by Brazil on June 19.

Coronavirus cases are rising in 37 out of 50 US states including Florida, which confirmed more than 10,000 new cases on Thursday. That marked the state's largest daily spike so far and a level that exceeded single-day tallies from any European country at the height of the outbreak there.

California, another epicentre, saw positive tests climb 37 per cent with hospitalisations up 56 per cent over the past two weeks.

Texas Governor Greg Abbott, a Republican who has previously resisted calls to make face masks mandatory, on Thursday ordered them to be worn in all counties with over 20 coronavirus cases. He also barred people from gathering in groups larger than 10.

"In the past few weeks, there has been a swift and substantial spike in coronavirus cases," Mr Abbott said in a video message. "We need to refocus on slowing the spread. But, this time, we want to do it without closing down Texas again."

Texas recorded its second-worst day of the pandemic with 7,915 new cases, according to state health department data on Thursday.

Virus-related hospitalisations expanded by 6.9 per cent to 7,382, the data showed, with medical facilities in Houston and elsewhere showing increasing signs of strain.

The US has now recorded over 131,000 deaths, almost a quarter of the known global total.

The wave of new cases has several governors halting or back-pedalling on plans to reopen their states after months of strict lockdowns, closing beaches and cancelling fireworks displays over the July 4 holiday weekend.

"We are not out of this crisis. We are still in the first wave of this crisis. It requires some level of personal responsibility," California Governor Gavin Newsom, a Democrat, said at a daily briefing on the pandemic.

The sweeping business shutdowns earlier in the pandemic devastated the US economy and threw millions of Americans out of work, leaving governors reluctant to take such draconian steps again, even if the lifting of restrictions likely touched off the new outbreak.

A Labour Department report out on Thursday showed the re-openings had a dramatic impact on hiring, with the US creating jobs at a record pace in June. However, employment remains 14.7 million jobs below pre-pandemic levels.

"Today's announcement proves that our economy is roaring back," Mr Trump told reporters at the White House.

But the latest batch of high-frequency data assembled by Federal Reserve officials, economists and private companies suggests that economic activity stalled in recent days during new clampdowns.

"More than ever, we're concerned about the worsening health situation and its impact on the burgeoning recovery," wrote Oxford Economics analyst Gregory Daco.

"Rebounding mobility and poor use of protective equipment will make for a dangerous summer cocktail," the analyst wrote.

Meanwhile Mr Trump headed to Mount Rushmore yesterday for an early Independence Day celebration with thousands of guests who would not be required to wear masks or observe social distancing.

The show will feature a military flyover and the first fireworks in more than a decade at the mountain in the Black Hills region of South Dakota which is carved with the visages of four American presidents.

"We've going to have a tremendous evening," Mr Trump said on Thursday at the White House. "It's going to be a fireworks display like few people have seen."

Coronavirus cases are rising in 37 out of 50 US states including Florida, which confirmed more than 10,000 new cases on Thursday. That marked the state's largest daily spike so far and a level that exceeded single-day tallies from any European country at the height of the outbreak there.

The mass gathering - which is expected to include about 7,500 ticketed guests - comes as members of Mr Trump's coronavirus task force are pleading with Americans to wear masks and practise social distancing.

Health officials around the country have urged Americans to scale back their holiday plans and celebrate at home. In Los Angeles County, California, the health department ordered beaches closed and fireworks shows cancelled.

"The most patriotic thing they can do this year is to stay at home," said Dr Peter Beilenson, the director of Sacramento County's Department of Health Services, of revellers planning to float on rafts along the American River.

REUTERS, BLOOMBERG, NYTIMES

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 04, 2020, with the headline 'US reports world's largest ever daily increase in virus cases'. Print Edition | Subscribe