The US has surpassed 3m confirmed coronavirus cases, driven by new outbreaks in states like California, which on Wednesday recorded the largest-ever one-day jump in infections for any state since the pandemic began.
There have been 3,035,337 confirmed cases of Covid-19 in the US, according to data from Johns Hopkins University, accounting for just over one-quarter of the 11.9m cases worldwide.
The US has tallied its latest 1m cases in less than a month, driven by the spike in the south and west that has averaged more than 50,000 cases a day over the past week.
After an early wave of cases that primarily affected New York and other states in the north-east, the locus of the outbreak has shifted in recent weeks to California, Florida, Texas and Arizona.
Gavin Newsom, the California governor, cautioned that the one-day record increase of 11,694 cases was driven in part by a backlog of test results from Los Angeles county, which has been one of the hardest-hit parts of the state.
Florida reported nearly 10,000 cases on Wednesday, while Arizona had a further 3,520. On Tuesday, Texas became only the fourth US state to report more than 10,000 cases in a single day and it tallied another 9,979 infections on Wednesday.
Despite the unabated climb in infections nationwide, Mike Pence, the US vice-president who chairs the White House coronavirus task force, said the US was starting to see the first indications that “mitigation efforts” were working in emerging hotspots. He added that positivity rates for tests in Arizona, Florida and Texas were beginning to flatten.
“We believe the takeaway from this for every American, particularly in those states that are impacted, is: keep doing what you’re doing, because we’re starting to see the first indications that . . . we’re putting into practice those mitigation efforts and we’re beginning to see indications that they are having a good effect,” Mr Pence said.
Mr Pence also said that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will revise its guidance on safely reopening schools, after a previous iteration incurred the wrath of President Donald Trump, who called them “very tough & expensive guidelines”.
Mr Trump claimed that Democrats were trying to keep schools closed, because they thought it would hurt his chances at re-election in November. He threatened to cut federal aid from schools that refused to comply and reopen.
Mr Pence on Wednesday acknowledged that schools could not simultaneously follow the current CDC guidelines on social distancing while reopening their doors in the autumn to all students.
Just weeks before the new term begins, schools around the country are still wrestling with how to bring pupils back on site safely.
Florida’s governor announced on Monday that all schools in the state would reopen next month. Bill de Blasio, New York City’s mayor, said on Wednesday that with parents eager to get their children back in the classroom, the city planned to introduce a mix of online and in-person instruction, with most children coming to school about two days a week.
Andrew Cuomo, New York state’s governor, said he expected to announce a decision for statewide schools in the coming weeks.