WASHINGTON: The United States recorded more than 48,000 new coronavirus cases over the last 24 hours, the country’s highest single-day infections so far.

The New York Times (NYT) reported on Wednesday that this was the country’s fourth daily record for infections in a week, forcing health officials to call for scaling back the Independence Day festivities. The three-day 4th of July festival begins on Saturday.

The Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Centre (JHCRC) reported that during the last two weeks, infections had increased in 35 of the 50 US states. Eight of these states have set new records for single-day infections.

“We don’t want any more closures, but our numbers are going through the roof,” Dr Cameron Kaiser, a public health officer in California, told NYT. “Please do not mix households, (stay) with the people you live with.”

Congress told ‘disturbing surge’ can bring up to 100,000 new cases per day

Federal health officials reminded Americans that the Memorial Day festivities in May had caused a sudden hike in Covid-19 cases, but they did not want another jump after the Fourth of July.

An NYT database showed that California added more than 8,100 new cases, Georgia added more than 2,400 and Texas added more than 7,900, all records.

America’s official health agency, the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), recorded 35,664 new cases in the US on Tuesday,

adding that at least 40 jurisdictions had reported more than 10,000 cases a day.

Dr Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told Congress on Tuesday that this “disturbing surge” could bring the US up to 100,000 new cases per day.

He also urged the US administration to “prepare for a long game” and stressed the need for maintaining social distance and wearing masks.

CDC Director Robert Redfield told young people specifically that they “are not exempt from wearing a mask”. The two officials also supported distributing free masks to Americans.

“Cloth face coverings prevent respiratory droplets from traveling into the air and onto other people. …This is called source control,” said a CDC advisory.

Although the Trump administration is eager to reopen the economy, federal guidelines now advise states to wait until they experience a downward trajectory of documented cases for at least 14 days.

The JHCRC, so far the most authentic global source of information on Covid-19, warned: “Lifting social distancing measures prematurely, while cases continue to increase or remain at high levels, could result in a resurgence of new cases.”

The centre also included both India and Pakistan among the countries where confirmed cases had increased rapidly in the past two weeks.

India reported its first case 152 days ago and since then, the country has recorded 585,481 cases, and 17,400 deaths.

The JHCRC map put India among the countries where infections have continued to rise.

The centre also noted that Pakistan reported its first case 126 days ago and since then it has recorded 213,470 cases, and 4,395 deaths.

Another source for Covid-19 data, Worldometer, identified India as the fourth most affected country, after the US, Brazil, and Russia. India has a total of 591,001 cases, 5,209 new cases and 17,417 deaths.

Pakistan is the 13th on the list, with 213,470 total and 4,133 new cases, and 4,395 deaths.

Published in Dawn, July 2nd, 2020