NEW YORK • 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 US presidential election.
The US has surpassed nine million total infections on Friday, representing nearly 3 per cent of the population, with more than 230,000 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, the US health authorities on Friday 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 US 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.
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 hospitalised Covid-19 patients has risen over 50 per cent in October to 46,000, the highest since mid-August.
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 towards 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 US and forced the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to ban cruises in US waters in March.
But the CDC, which has faced intense pressure by the world's biggest cruises lines and the White House to end the ban, said on Friday it would lift the ban, even as it said recent outbreaks show cruise travel "facilitates and amplifies" Covid-19 transmission even at reduced passenger capacities and poses a risk of fuelling spread without proper oversight.
Dr 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," Dr Jha told Reuters in an interview. "And nine, 10 months into this pandemic, we are still largely not quite prepared."