US surpasses 9 million COVID-19 cases just days before election

As the United States presidential election campaign enters the final stretch, lawmakers in several states across the country are desperately trying to curb the spread of COVID-19, which has surged in recent weeks.

The US surpassed nine million COVID-19 cases on Friday, according to a tally from Johns Hopkins University, and more than 229,000 deaths attributed to the novel coronavirus were reported nationwide.

This is the fastest the country has added one million new COVID-19 infections to its tally since the start of the pandemic, CNN reported, going from eight to nine million cases in the span of 14 days.

The US also broke a single-day record for new infections on Thursday, reporting at least 91,248 new cases, according to a Reuters news agency tally.

The uptick in cases and hospitalisations has pushed legislators in hard-hit states – both Republicans and Democrats – to ask people to remain vigilant and avoid large gatherings to stem new infections.

“Utah is in a very serious situation,” Republican Governor Gary Herbert tweeted this week.

“COVID-19 is the most devastating when hospitals are overwhelmed and unable to provide good care to everyone who needs it. We have seen this in Italy. We have seen this in New York. We could see this in Utah if things do not change,” he wrote.

Utah is among several states currently that have seen record numbers of new cases. An increase in hospitalisations, in particular, has left many state governments concerned about their capacity to handle such high demand for medical care.

The number of hospitalised COVID-19 patients has risen by more than 50 percent in October to 46,000, the highest since mid-August, according to Reuters news agency figures.

Tony Evers, the Democratic Party governor of Wisconsin, has also urged residents to stay home to prevent the spread of the virus. On Thursday, he said the state had set up 71 new COVID-19 testing sites across 56 counties and seven tribal nations.

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