WASHINGTON (NEXSTAR) — The United States recorded more than 85,000 confirmed coronavirus cases on Friday — shattering the previous single-day record set in July, according to a New York Times database. The Times reported 85,085 cases on Friday compared to some 75,600 on July 16 during the nation’s second case peak.
The country has now reached an average of 64,000 daily coronavirus cases inching closer to the average of 67,000 daily cases we saw in mid-July. The recent numbers, that show a 34% spike in cases over the last 14 days, certainly indicate we’re now in the middle of a third COVID-19 peak — and possibly on the path to the highest mark yet.
Deaths are starting to climb as well. After being relatively flat last week, we’ve seen a 8% increase in COVID fatalities in the 14-day average. While 925 deaths were reported Friday, we saw a death toll of 1,170 on Wednesday. That’s the highest daily figure in a month, according to the New York Times.
Hospitals across the country are starting to buckle from the resurgence, with several states setting records for the number of people hospitalized and leaders scrambling to find extra beds and staff. New highs in cases have been reported in states big and small — from Idaho to Ohio — in recent days. The rise in cases and hospitalizations is alarming to medical experts.
The U.S. surge mirrors a similarly widespread spike in Europe, where Rome, Paris and other major cities are reining in nightlife as part of the increasingly drastic measures undertaken to slow the spread of the pandemic. French authorities said the country had recorded over 1 million confirmed coronavirus cases since the start of the pandemic, becoming the second country in Western Europe after Spain to reach that number.
The head of the World Health Organization warned that countries in the Northern Hemisphere are at a “critical juncture” as cases and deaths continue to rise. “The next few months are going to be very tough and some countries are on a dangerous track,” said WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus at a press briefing on Friday.
As numbers rose to record highs, the two men hoping to lead the United States in 2021 focused on virus response during their Thursday debate in Nashville. President Donald Trump declared the virus will “go away.” Democratic rival Joe Biden countered that the nation was heading toward “a dark winter.”
“Anyone who is responsible for that many deaths should not remain as president of the United States of America,” Biden said.
With less than two weeks until the election, Trump portrayed himself as the same outsider he first pitched to voters four years ago, repeatedly saying he wasn’t a politician. Biden, meanwhile, argued that Trump was an incompetent leader of a country facing multiple crises and tried to connect what he saw as the president’s failures to the everyday lives of Americans, especially when it comes to the pandemic.
The president, who promised a vaccine within weeks, said the worst problems are in states with Democratic governors, a contention at odds with rising cases in states that voted for Trump in 2016. Biden, meanwhile, vowed that his administration would defer to scientists on battling the pandemic and said that Trump’s divisive approach on suffering states hindered the nation’s response.
“I don’t look at this in terms of the way he does — blue states and red states,” Biden said. “They’re all the United States. And look at all the states that are having such a spike in the coronavirus–they’re the red states.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.