More than 60,500 new COVID-19 infections have been reported across the United States in one day, in a worrying new record.
The total on Friday (Australian time) represents a slight rise from the day before, when there were 60,000 new cases, and marks the largest one-day increase by any country since the new coronavirus emerged in China late last year.
As infections rose in 41 of the 50 states over the past two weeks, Americans have become increasingly divided on issues such as the reopening of schools and businesses.
Orders by governors and local leaders mandating face masks have become particularly divisive.
“It’s just disheartening because the selfishness of (not wearing a mask) versus the selflessness of my staff and the people in this hospital who are putting themselves at risk, and I got COVID from this,” said Dr Andrew Pastewski, ICU medical director at Jackson South Medical Center in Miami.
“You know, we’re putting ourselves at risk and other people aren’t willing to do anything and in fact go the other way and be aggressive to promote the disease. It’s really, it’s really hard.”
Stephanie Porta, 41, a lifelong resident of Orlando, Florida, said only about half the shoppers at her supermarket wore masks, though that was more than she saw two weeks ago.
“They’re trying to make everything seem normal when it’s not. People are dying, people are getting sick. It’s insane,” Ms Porta said.
Florida on Thursday announced nearly 9,000 new cases in the state, and 120 new coronavirus deaths, a record daily increase in lives lost.
Governor Ron DeSantis called the rising cases a “blip” and urged residents not to be afraid.
“I know we’ve had a lot of different blips,” Mr DeSantis said. “We’re now at a higher blip than where we were in May and the beginning of June.”
Florida is one of the few states that does not disclose the number of hospitalised COVID patients. But more than four dozen Florida hospitals reported their intensive care units reached full capacity earlier this week.
In Texas a group of bar owners sued Governor Greg Abbott, a Republican, saying his June 26 order closing them down violates the state constitution, the Dallas Morning News reported.
Dr Robert Redfield, director of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said Thursday that keeping schools closed would be a greater risk to children’s health than reopening them.
California and Texas, the two most populous states, announced record increases in COVID deaths on Wednesday.
California has seen cases and hospitalisations surge, even though it imposed one of the strictest lockdowns. After several lawmakers and staffers at the state Capitol in Sacramento were infected, lawmakers said the legislature would not return from summer break until July 27.