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The US is surging towards record numbers of new coronavirus infections above 100,000 a day, health experts have warned, just as a presidential campaign with the pandemic as its core issue enters its final week.
In a further blow to Donald Trump’s hopes of keeping the White House, the US death toll from Covid-19 will pass 225,000 by early this week, bringing extra scrutiny to the president’s repeated but evidently false claims that the crisis is “rounding the turn”.
With only 10 days remaining before election day, 3 November, and with more than 56 million Americans having already voted by mail or in person, the Republican incumbent is short on time and resources to convince a dwindling number of undecideds that he is the best choice to lead the country out of the pandemic.
National opinion polls continue to show Democratic challenger Joe Biden with a substantial lead, although the races are noticeably tighter in several of the crucial swing states both candidates need to secure victory in the electoral college.
The country set a record daily number of new coronavirus cases on Friday at more than 83,000, eclipsing the previous high set on 16 July by more than 6,000. Dozens of states have reported their own surge in numbers, with the governor of Utah, Gary Herbert, warning that health services are at breaking point.
“Up until now, our hospitals have been able to provide good care to all Covid and non-Covid patients who need it,” he said. “But today we stand on the brink.
“If Utahans do not take serious steps to limit group gatherings and wear masks, our healthcare providers will not have the ability to provide quality care for everyone who needs it.”
Health experts nationally see the crisis worsening, in contrast to the rosy picture painted by Trump at campaign rallies in Florida that the US was “rounding the corner beautifully” and would not see the dark winter that Biden foresaw in this week’s final presidential debate.
“We easily will hit six-figure numbers [daily] in terms of the number of cases,” Michael Osterholm, the director of the center for infectious disease research and policy at the University of Minnesota, told CNN. “And the deaths are going to go up precipitously in the next three to four weeks, following usually new cases by about two to three weeks.”
Trump was in his home state of Florida on Saturday, casting his vote at a library in West Palm Beach before departing for large campaign rallies in North Carolina, Ohio and Wisconsin. On Sunday he will speak in New Hampshire.
Biden has maintained a less frantic schedule, preferring smaller, drive-in or virtual events to public mass gatherings. Aides have said he will be “campaigning aggressively” in battleground states in the coming days, and he was scheduled to appear at two drive-in events in Pennsylvania on Saturday, one attended by the singer Jon Bon Jovi.
Source: The Guardian
Keyword: ‘On the brink’: US coronavirus cases surge in final days before election | US elections 2020