US president Donald Trump has promised supporters the coronavirus pandemic will end soon despite the country breaking its daily record of new cases on the very same day.
The pandemic, which has killed more than 224,000 people in the US, has become the dominant issue of the upcoming election campaign, with Mr Trump defending his administration’s handling of the crisis during two rallies on Friday (local time) in Florida.
He rosily predicted the pandemic was going to “end quickly” and said the country was “entering the final turn and approaching the light at the end of the tunnel”.
He said the former vice president and his Democratic allies were trying to scare people by overstating the virus threat.
On Friday, Mr Biden said Mr Trump had given up on containing the virus and promised if he won the November 3 election he would ask Congress to pass a comprehensive Covid-19 bill he would sign within the first 10 days of taking office.
“He’s quit on America. He just wants us to grow numb,” Mr Biden said during a speech in his home city of Wilmington, Delaware.
“I’m not going to shut down the economy. I’m not going to shut down the country. I’m going to shut down the virus.”
Despite record Covid cases, thousands show up to Trump rally
The US broke its daily record for new coronavirus infections on Friday as it reported 84,218 new cases due to outbreaks in virtually every part of the country, according to a Reuters tally.
While Florida is still logging thousands of new Covid-19 cases daily, audience members stood and sat shoulder-to-shoulder, and Make America Great Again hats far outnumbered face coverings.
In-person voting in the state began on Monday.
On Thursday, the US reported a near-record 76,195 new cases. The previous record was 77,299 new cases on July 16.
At the time, hospitalisations for Covid-19 patients hit 47,000 and two weeks later deaths rose to an average of 1,200 per day.
Now, hospitalisations are more than 41,000 and deaths average nearly 800 per day. Sixteen states had record one-day increases in new cases on Friday and 11 reported a record number of hospitalised Covid-19 patients.
Health experts have not pinpointed the reason for the rise but have long warned colder temperatures driving people inside, fatigue with precautions and students returning to schools and colleges, could promote the spread of the virus.
The US has the most cases in the world at 8.5 million and the most fatalities with 224,000 lives lost. The Midwest has been the epicentre of the latest surge but infections are rising nationwide.
The Northeast reported an 83 per cent increase in cases in the past month. New cases have doubled in Connecticut, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and New Jersey in the past four weeks as compared to the prior four weeks, according to a Reuters analysis.
Western states including Montana, New Mexico and Wyoming have reported a 200 per cent increase in cases in the past four weeks when compared with the previous four weeks.
Mr Trump will vote in his adopted home of Florida before holding campaign rallies in three swing states on Saturday.
He will vote in person in West Palm Beach, near his Mar-a-Lago estate, after switching his permanent residence and voter registration last year from New York to Florida, a must-win battleground for his re-election bid.
Democratic rival Joe Biden and his wife, Jill, also will hit the campaign trail, travelling to the vital battleground of Pennsylvania for two events on Saturday.
Former president Barack Obama will campaign in Florida, making his second campaign-trail appearance on behalf of his former vice president after a stop in Pennsylvania on Wednesday.
With Reuters and AP
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