WASHINGTON • Coronavirus cases in the United States topped four million yesterday, with over 2,600 new cases every hour on average, the highest rate in the world, according to a Reuters tally.
Infections in America have rapidly accelerated since the first case was detected on Jan 21.
It took the US 98 days to reach one million cases. It took the country 43 days to reach two million and then 27 days to reach three million. But it has taken the US only 16 days to reach four million cases – at a rate of 43 new cases a minute.
California has overtaken New York, the original epicentre of the US coronavirus outbreak, as the worst-hit state for cases, according to the Reuters tally of county data.
The overall tally of cases in the most populous US state rose by 12,112 on Wednesday to more than 421,000, the biggest single-day increase since the pandemic started.
California deaths also set a one-day record, rising by 159. New York has recorded by far the most deaths of any US state at more than 32,000, with California in fourth place with over 8,000 deaths.
Texas on Wednesday set one-day records for increases in Covid-19 deaths and hospitalisations in the state, forcing one county to store bodies in refrigerated trucks and prompting a top health official there to call for new stay-at-home orders.
Texas, which reported 197 deaths and 10,893 hospitalisations that day, has been one of the states hardest hit by the resurgent coronavirus. Hidalgo County, at the southern tip of the state along the US border with Mexico, has seen cases rise by 60 per cent in the last week, according to the Reuters tally, with deaths doubling to more than 360.
“We’ve got to lasso this virus, this stallion, bring the numbers back down and get control of this thing,” Hidalgo County Judge Richard Cortez said. “Because our hospitals – they’re war zones, they are really struggling right now.”
Crematoriums in the Hidalgo area have a wait list of two weeks, Mr Cortez said, forcing the county to use five refrigerated trucks that can hold 50 bodies each.
Meanwhile, a cafeteria employee who works in a building where some White House staff have offices has tested positive for the coronavirus, reported NBC News.
It took the US 98 days to reach one million cases. It took the country 43 days to reach two million and then 27 days to reach three million. But it has taken the US only 16 days to reach four million cases.
The White House is conducting contact tracing after the worker in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building, which is next to the White House, tested positive, NBC News added.
The federal government, state governors and city leaders have often clashed over the best way to tackle the pandemic, leading to a confusing patchwork of rules on issues like wearing masks in public and when businesses can reopen.
President Donald Trump recently shifted his tone. He had previously been reluctant to wear a mask but this week encouraged Americans to wear face coverings. He even appeared in public for the first time with a mask recently.
Of the 20 countries with the biggest Covid-19 outbreak, the US ranks second for cases per capita, at 120 infections per 10,000 people, exceeded only by Chile.
With over 143,000 deaths, or 4.4 fatalities per 10,000 people, the US ranks sixth globally for the most deaths per capita. It is exceeded by the United Kingdom, Spain, Italy, Chile and France.
Globally, the rate of new infections shows no sign of slowing, with the disease accelerating the fastest in the US and South America, according to the Reuters tally, based on official reports.
Brazil registered a new daily record for confirmed coronavirus cases on Wednesday, pushing the total confirmed cases across Latin America past four million.