The United States set a new daily record for coronavirus cases on Thursday, reporting more than 77,000 new daily cases, breaking the previous record set just two days ago, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University.
The 24-hour period also saw 969 deaths, the largest increase since June 10 as experts warn the death toll, which currently stands at 138,000 nationwide, is likely to spike as cases and hospitalizations rise in many states. Areas in Texas and Arizona where cases have surged are storing bodies in coolers and refrigerated trailers as morgues reach capacity.
Fatalities in the U.S. had steadily fallen in May and June, down from an average 2,000 deaths a day in April to under 800 in June before rising again, Reuters reported.
South Carolina, Texas and Florida all reported their largest one-day spikes on Thursday as well, with Texas reporting over 15,000 new cases and Florida reporting nearly 14,000 new cases.
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services assistant secretary for health Brett Giroir told CNN that tests are being done in much larger numbers: He estimates 700,000 to 800,000 people are being tested each day. Though the increase in testing is positive, it has caused a slow down in the results, creating a lag in data that states depend upon to make decisions about resources and reopenings.
“Even in the large commercial labs, and we follow this every single day, there may be an outlier that’s 10 days or 12 days, we can’t deny that that happens,” Giroir said. He wants test results back as fast as possible, but a three-day turnaround is “very reasonable.”
The record number of cases come as politicians and citizens increasingly fight over wearing face masks in public and reopening schools and businesses.
If Americans do not unite to slow the spread of the virus, cases could soon top 100,000 a day, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the government’s top infectious diseases expert, has warned.