Oct. 17 (UPI) — The United States reported 69,000 new COVID-19 infections Friday, the highest daily count since July.
The figure is the highest number since a summer surge of daily cases peaked in mid-July at more than 77,000. By Sept. 7, the summer surge waned as the daily count dropped to 31,395 with an uptick a few days after Labor Day to about 34,300 new cases.
Over the past week, daily U.S. cases have been averaging more than 55,000, up 60% from the decline in mid-September.
The daily death toll from COVID-19 has hovered around 700 in recent days, down from the average between late July into mid-August of over 1,000 daily deaths.
Worldwide, the United States has reported the highest number of cases since the start of the pandemic, with 8 million cases, and the highest number of deaths at over 218,600, according to Johns Hopkins University global tracker.
At least 10 states reported their highest daily COVID-19 cases since the pandemic start Friday, including Colorado, Idaho, Indiana, Minnesota, New Mexico, North Carolina, North Dakota, West Virginia, Wisconsin and Wyoming, according to John Hopkins.
In Minnesota, public health officials tied at least 20 cases to a campaign rally for President Donald Trump last month. Of the 20 cases, 16 attended the rally and four engaged in counterprotests. State contact tracing has also linked one case to a rally for Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden and three cases were linked to a Minneapolis speech by Vice President Mike Pence in late September.
Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer urged people attending a Trump rally Saturday to wear masks and social distance.
In Kansas City, Mo., some medical facilities turned away ambulances this week because their beds were filled with COVID-19 patients, the Kansas City Star reported.
“We’re bursting at the seams in the metropolitan area, and really across the state and the region,” said Marc Larsen, operations director of COVID response at the St. Luke Hospital system, who is also an emergency physician. More than 100 COVID-19 patients were checked into the St. Luke system on Tuesday.
Tucson Mayor Regina Romero wrote an open letter to remind campaign officials of the “various ordinances in effect” ahead of a Trump rally Monday in her city.
New Mexico saw record cases for a third day in a row, reporting 819 new infections Friday, up 147 from the previous record of 672 on Thursday.
If the daily infection rate rises to 900 cases per day for several consecutive days, the intensive care beds will be full in three to four weeks, according to the state Medical Advisory Team projections.
The state also reported six more deaths Friday, including a teenage girl from Eddy County, who became the state’s youngest COVID-19 death, governor’s office spokeswoman Nora Meyers Sackett confirmed.
In response to the uptick, New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham ordered new restrictions on mass gatherings and a 10 p.m. closing time for establishments serving alcohol this week.
In New York City, Police Commissioner Dermot Shea said Friday there was an uptick in COVID-19 in Bronx officers. A police spokeswoman added there were 54 New York Police Department officers out sick due to COVID-19, which is more than triple the number on Sept. 1 when 16 tested positive.
Shea did not say whether the infections were related to officers not wearing face masks.
“It’s impossible to … we’ve seen cases where [members] have traveled and come back,” Shea said, adding that there is contact tracing done within the NYPD. “How to pinpoint exactly … we do our best.”
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has called for the NYPD to tighten its enforcement of shutdowns in COVID-19 hotspots, including Borough Park in Brooklyn.
Shea said that the NYPD is focused on being able “to keep everyone safe.”
Cuomo announced in a tweet Saturday that movie theatres in certain counties outside of New York City will reopen starting next Friday at 25% capacity with up to 50 people per screen and masks required.
“There will be mandatory social distancing and other precautions,” Cuomo said, adding an image outlining more specific details on measures that will be taken to assure safety.
In Illinois, Gov. J.B. Pritzker declared a “new wave” of the coronavirus as the state reported a record high Friday of 4,544 new daily cases, above the previous record of 4,015 on Thursday.
On Friday, Pritzker signed 30-day extensions of his COVID-19-related executive orders, including extending a mask requirement and a moratorium on evictions.
The Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation projects a winter surge with 389,087 U.S. COVID-19 deaths by Feb. 1.
Some states are taking action to curb the spread.
Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts announced a requirement that hospitals reserve at least 10% of staffed general and intensive care unit beds for COVID-19 patients.
In Kentucky, Gov. Andy Beshear said that he instructed authorities to increase mask enforcement.
White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany announced Friday that she has recovered from COVID-19 after testing positive earlier this month along with two of her assistant press secretaries. She was among more than a dozen White House staffers that tested positive for COVID-19 earlier this month along with Trump, who also says he has since recovered.