WASHINGTON (AFP, BLOOMBERG) - The United States on Saturday (Jan 2) saw its highest number yet of coronavirus cases recorded in one day, with more than 277,000 infections.
The hardest-hit country in the world by the pandemic, the United States has marked 20.4 million cases overall and just under 350,000 deaths.
Infections have been surging in recent months, with top US government scientist Anthony Fauci warning just days after Christmas that the worst of the pandemic may be yet to come, driving the country to a critical point as holiday travel spreads the virus.
The country has floundered in its efforts to quell Covid-19, with its vaccination programme beset by logistical problems and overstretched hospitals.
More than 4.2 million people in the US have already received their first jabs, with 13 million doses distributed, but that falls well behind the 20 million inoculations that President Donald Trump's administration promised by the end of 2020.
Meanwhile, New York state passed one million Covid-19 cases after a sombre year in which more than 30,000 of its residents died from the virus.
More than a third of the state's total cases were reported in December as cold weather nudged people indoors, holidays increased social gatherings and residents tired of restrictions.
On the first day of 2021, the US surpassed 20 million Covid-19 cases - twice as many as the second-ranking nation, India.
Governor Andrew Cuomo reported 15,074 new infections, short of New York's pandemic record of 16,802 cases reached two days ago. Another 128 people in the state died of causes related to Covid-19, Mr Cuomo said on Saturday. The statewide positive-test rate declined slightly to 7.45 per cent.
Elsewhere in the country, several states are struggling with rising daily cases, deaths and hospitalisations amid a lack of a national strategy for controlling the surge.
California had more than 2.2 million cases and 21,000 hospitalised for Covid-19 as of Jan 1. Texas and Florida also have passed one million, and Illinois is on track to reach that milestone within the next week.