NEW YORK: The United States broke its daily record for new COVID-19 infections on Friday (Oct 23) as it reported 84,218 new cases due to outbreaks in virtually every part of the country, according to a Reuters tally.

The spike in cases comes less than two weeks before the presidential election on Nov 3 and is hitting battleground states such as Ohio, Michigan, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. On Thursday, the United States reported a near-record 76,195 new cases.

The previous record was 77,299 new cases on Jul 16. At the time, hospitalisations for COVID-19 patients hit 47,000 and two weeks later, deaths rose to an average of 1,200 per day.

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Now, hospitalisations are more than 41,000 and deaths average nearly 800 per day. Sixteen states had record one-day increases in new cases on Friday and 11 reported a record number of hospitalised COVID-19 patients.

Health experts have not pinpointed the reason for the rise but have long warned that colder temperatures driving people inside, fatigue with COVID-19 precautions and students returning to schools and colleges, could promote the spread of the virus.

The United States has the most cases in the world at 8.5 million and the most fatalities with 224,000 lives lost. The US has also reported over the past week an average of 60,000 new cases per day, the highest seven-day average since early August.

The Midwest has been the epicentre of the latest surge but infections are rising nationwide.

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The Northeast reported an 83 per cent increase in cases in the past month. New cases have doubled in Connecticut, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and New Jersey in the past four weeks as compared to the prior four weeks, according to a Reuters analysis.

Western states including Montana, New Mexico and Wyoming have reported a 200 per cent increase in cases in the past four weeks when compared with the previous four weeks.

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