Several of the most fiercely contested states in the US presidential election showed sharp increases in coronavirus cases on Thursday, pushing the number of infections nationwide to their highest levels since a summer outbreak.
Wisconsin, Ohio and North Carolina — which Donald Trump won four years ago but where statewide polling shows Democratic challenger Joe Biden either even or leading — recorded record jumps in cases, according to local health departments.
In addition, Arizona and Florida, which are also viewed as “swing states” that Mr Biden could win after they went for Mr Trump in 2016, had big jumps in infections on Thursday. Arizona reported more than 1,000 new infections for the first time in a month, while Florida recorded 3,573 new cases, its second-highest total in the past month.
Nationwide, the US tallied 63,172 new cases on Thursday, the largest one-day jump since late July, according to data compiled by the Covid Tracking Project. There were 951 Covid-related deaths over the same period.
The sharp rise less than three weeks before election day will only reinforce the pandemic as the central issue of the campaign in its home stretch. Mr Biden has frequently seen his polling numbers increase in states where infections are on the rise, and the Trump campaign has worked to shift the national debate away from the president’s handling of the pandemic.