COVID-19 deaths are rising at their fastest rate since May as California, Texas, and Florida all set one-day records.
UNITED STATES (Agencies) – More than 150,000 people have died from the new Coronavirus in the United States, far exceeding the toll in any other pandemic-hit nation, as the states of California, Florida and Texas all set one-day records for COVID-19 deaths.
The US recorded 1,461 deaths on Wednesday, the highest one-day increase since 1,484 on May 27, according to Reuters news agency. This means one person in the country died about every minute from COVID-19 in the last 24 hours.
California had 185 fatalities, Florida reported 217, and Texas had at least 311 deaths with some counties yet to say.
The three states together account for one-quarter of the total US population.
Deaths from COVID-19 are rising at their fastest rate in two months, increasing by 10,000 in the past 11 days, but new infections do not grow at the same pace.
Amid the spike in deaths, Florida’s Miami-Dade school district delayed returning students to classrooms when the academic year begins on August 31.
The county has more than 350,000 students, making it the country’s fourth-largest school district.
“In light of the viral surge in our community, it’s in the best interest of students and employees to commence the 20-21 school year at a distance,” Miami-Dade County Public Schools said on Twitter.
With the scheduled reopening of school days away in some states, President Donald Trump has pushed students to return to class while teacher unions and local officials have called for them to stay home.
Commercial pilot Rob Koreman of Fort Lauderdale, Florida, said he was stunned by the climbing numbers.
“I’m a pilot and hit so many cities, so many people on board, I have to be aware,” Koreman told Reuters. “None of this should have happened. We needed state coordination, if not flat-out a federal mandate.”
The pace of coronavirus infections has accelerated since late May, and the epicenter has moved to South and West from the previous hotspot of New York, which still has by far the highest number of deaths of any US state at more than 32,000.
Many health experts say the outbreak could be brought under greater control if guidelines to maintain social distancing and wear masks in public were enforced nationwide.
Trump has rejected a federal mask order, and while he was initially reluctant to be seen wearing one, he has recently come round to the idea.
Louie Gohmert, a Republican from Texas who has refused to wear a mask, tested positive for COVID-19 on Wednesday, raising concerns that other members of Congress may have been exposed. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi now requires face masks in the House of Representatives.
The House sergeant at arms said in a statement later on Wednesday that “all persons entering the House Office Buildings” should be wearing a face cover, with some exceptions, including when a person is “eating, drinking or legally smoking.”
Officials in the state of New Jersey, which has the country’s second-highest death toll, pleads with young people to avoid large gatherings.
“Coronavirus is more easily transmitted indoors. Crowded indoor house parties are not smart or safe,” Governor Phil Murphy wrote on Twitter.
The University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation predicted in March that the pandemic could kill more than 81,000 people in the US by July.
In its latest statement on July 14, the IHME said its model now projects the US death toll at more than 224,000 by November 1; it told many deaths could be avoided by preventive measures such as masks and physical distancing.
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