The United States has recorded more than 1,000 deaths from COVID-19 for the third straight day, as the pandemic escalates in southern and western US states.
Fatalities nationwide were recorded at 1,014 on Thursday, with not all states reporting. Deaths were 1,135 on Wednesday and 1,141 on Tuesday.
Even though deaths are rising in the United States for a second week in a row, they remain well below levels seen in April, when 2,000 people a day were dying from the virus.
The US has also passed a total of more than 4 million coronavirus infections since the first US case was documented in January.
The average number of new cases is now rising by more than 2,600 per hour nationwide, the highest rate in the world.
As the epicentre of the US outbreak has spread from New York to the South and West, federal, state and local officials have clashed over how to ease lockdowns imposed on Americans and businesses.
Requirements that residents wear masks in public have become the subject of a fierce political divide, as conservatives argue that such orders violate the US Constitution.
President Donald Trump who has rejected a nationwide mask rule and been reluctant to wear one himself, this week reversed course and encouraged Americans to do so.
Trump told a White House briefing on Thursday that hot spot states may need to delay re-opening schools by a few weeks but pushed for most students to be able to return to classrooms in the autumn.
Trump also said he would no longer hold part of the Republican Party's nominating convention in Florida in August because of a spike in coronavirus cases in the state.
"The timing for this event is not right," Trump told the White House briefing. "It's just not right with what's happened recently, the flare-up in Florida. To have a big convention it's not the right time."
Trump has been holding his first coronavirus briefings in months without the experts on his task force, including Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.
Trump's rival for the presidency, Democrat Joe Biden, blasted his handling of the pandemic in a campaign video aired on Thursday.