The US reported 103,000 new coronavirus infections on Wednesday, the biggest single-day increase in cases since the start of the pandemic, led by several Midwestern states which tallied near-record daily numbers.
The jump in national cases, from 86,500 on Tuesday, beat the previous record set on Friday of 97,000, according to data compiled by the Covid Tracking Project.
Wednesday’s tally took the total number of infections over the past seven days to almost 623,000, a record for any seven-day period since the disease began spreading in the US earlier this year. The US has averaged about 89,000 cases a day over the past week.
President Donald Trump has sought to blame the rising case count on increased testing, but the new infections have also been accompanied by a sharp rise of people currently in US hospitals. On Wednesday the number of hospital beds occupied by Covid-19 patients hit a three-month high of 52,049, threatening to strain resources.
While average daily death rates remain lower than during the early stages of the pandemic, they have ticked up in recent weeks.
Despite the national outbreak coming just as Americans went to the polls to vote for Mr Trump or his Democratic rival Joe Biden in the presidential election, exit polls appeared to suggest that voters were less concerned about the pandemic than other issues, including the health of the economy.
About one in six voters said the coronavirus pandemic was their most important issue of the election, according to a CNN exit poll, lagging about a third of voters who nominated the economy as their main issue, or about one in five, who cited racial inequality.
Several of the election’s battleground states were among those hardest hit by the new outbreak, particularly in the Midwest.
Wisconsin, which was bitterly fought over by Mr Trump and Mr Biden, reported a one-day record 5,935 cases on Wednesday, as did Minnesota and Indiana with more than 3,600 new infections apiece.
Illinois and Ohio reported among their biggest single-day jumps, with increases of 7,538 and 4,071 respectively, according to Covid Tracking Project data.
Pennsylvania, which was one of the most contested states in Tuesday’s vote, reported 2,795 new cases on Wednesday, 80 shy of its record increase on Tuesday.
Nationwide, the US had a further 1,116 deaths due to coronavirus, down from 1,529 on Tuesday, which was the biggest daily increase in fatalities since mid-May. The Tuesday death toll was higher than any one-day total seen during a summer surge that washed through sunbelt states.
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