The number of confirmed new coronavirus cases per day in the US hit an all-time high of 40,000 — eclipsing the mark set during one of the deadliest stretches in late April.
The figure represents a resurgence that has led some governors to back track or at least pause the reopening of their states.
While the increase is believed to reflect, in part, greatly expanded testing, experts say there is ample evidence the virus is making a comeback, including rising deaths and hospitalisations in parts of the country, especially in the South and West.
Arizona, Texas and Florida are among the states that have been hit hard.
The number of confirmed infections soared past the previous high set on April 24 of 36,400, according to the count kept by Johns Hopkins University.
Deaths from the coronavirus in the US are down to around 600 per day, compared with about 2,200 in mid-April.
Some experts have expressed doubt that deaths will return to that level, in part because of advances in treatment and prevention but also because a large share of the new infections are in younger adults, who are more likely than older ones to survive.
The virus is blamed for 124,000 deaths in the US and 2.4 million confirmed infections nationwide, by Johns Hopkins’ count.
But US health officials said the true number of Americans infected is about 20 million, or almost 10 times higher. Worldwide, the virus has claimed close to a half-a-million lives, according to Johns Hopkins.
Elsewhere around the world, China moved closer to containing a fresh outbreak in Beijing.
Another record daily increase in India pushed the caseload in the world’s second most populous nation toward half a million.
And other countries with big populations like Indonesia, Pakistan and Mexico grappled with large numbers of infections and strained health care systems.
South Africa, which accounts for about half of the infections on the African continent with over 118,000, reported a record of nearly 6,600 new cases after loosening what had been one of the world’s strictest lockdowns earlier this month.
Italy, one of the hardest-hit European nations, battled to control an outbreak among Bulgarian seasonal crop pickers near Naples.
The governor of the southern Campania region insisted that the workers who live in an apartment complex with dozens of Covid-19 cases stay inside for just over two weeks, not even emerging for food — authorities will deliver groceries to them.
In the US, Arizona reported over 3,000 additional infections on Thursday, the fourth day in a week with a increase over that mark. The state postponed further efforts to reopen.
The numbers “continue to go in the wrong direction,” said Republican Gov Doug Ducey said.
Similarly, Republican Gov Greg Abbott of Texas put off lifting any more restrictions Thursday and reimposed a ban on elective surgeries in some places to preserve hospital space after the number of patients statewide more than doubled in two weeks.
And Nevada’s governor ordered the wearing of face masks in public, Las Vegas casinos included.