WASHINGTON (REUTERS) - Florida reported over 12,000 new cases of Covid-19 on Sunday (July 19), the fifth day in a row the state has announced over 10,000 new infections, even as US President Donald Trump pledged that the virus was coming under control.
The virus has claimed over 140,000 US lives total since the pandemic started, and Florida, California, Texas and other southern and western states shatter records every day.
Despite record levels of new cases nationwide, the Trump administration is pushing for school to reopen in a few weeks and resisting a federal mandate to wear masks in public.
Trump defended his handling of the coronavirus pandemic in an interview broadcast on Sunday, including his statement that there were only embers of the virus popping up around the country.
"We have embers and we do have flames. Florida became more flame-like, but it's - it's going to be under control." Trump on "Fox News Sunday" repeated his assertion that the virus will eventually disappear.
"I'll be right eventually," he said. "It's going to disappear and I'll be right."
Experts at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have warned cases and deaths could rise this autumn and winter.
Nearly all 20 forecasting models used by the CDC project rising deaths in the coming weeks.
Throughout the United States, every metric to measure the outbreak is going in the wrong direction - rising cases, deaths, hospitalisations and positivity rates of test results.
At least 14 states have reported record coronavirus hospitalizations so far in July, including Alabama, Arizona, Georgia, Florida, North Carolina, Nevada and Texas.
Trump said he did not agree with CDC Director Robert Redfield that this fall and winter will be one of the most difficult times in American public health, as hospitals deal with the seasonal flu on top of Covid cases. "I don't know and I don't think he knows," Trump said.
Trump also called Dr Anthony Fauci, the government's top infectious diseases expert, "a little bit of an alarmist."
Dr Fauci has warned that cases could soon top 100,000 a day if Americans do not come together to take steps necessary to halt the spread of the virus.
The country is averaging 60,000 new cases a day and reported a record one-day increase of 77,299 on Thursday.