US daily COVID-19 cases hit new record, topping 99,000

WASHINGTON (AFP) – Over 99,000 novel coronavirus cases were recorded in the United States (US) in the past 24 hours, a new daily record, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University.

The country reported 99,660 new infections and 1,112 deaths, the tally by the Baltimore-based school showed one day after Americans voted to choose their next president.

Over 9.4 million people have been infected and 233,000 have died in the US so far during the pandemic, by far the worst tolls in absolute terms globally.

Cases have been surging to record highs across the country since mid-October, especially in the north and the Midwest.

Health officials in some states have already sounded warnings about their ability to handle an influx in hospitalisations as the winter flu season looms.

The pandemic has also slammed the US economy, fuelling a historic contraction in growth and tens of millions of job losses.

It also impacted the US election, with more than 100 million voters casting their ballot by mail or in person before Election Day on Tuesday – the highest number of early voters ever.

Supporters of President Donald Trump demonstrate outside the Pennsylvania Convention Center where votes are being counted, Thursday, Nov. 5, 2020, in Philadelphia, following Tuesday’s election. Photo: AP

The final election results are not yet known, with the count partly delayed by the high number of mail-in ballots as many Americans sought to avoid crowded polling booths.

US President Donald Trump – who was briefly hospitalised for COVID-19 in October – has consistently downplayed the seriousness of the outbreak, insisting that the virus will eventually just “disappear”.

His Democratic election rival Joe Biden has sought to turn the vote into a referendum on Trump’s handling of the crisis, and vowed to listen to scientific recommendations on handling the pandemic should he take the White House.