01:22 GMT29 September 2020
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    The US has documented nearly 60,000 additional novel coronavirus cases so far on Friday, bringing the Land of the Free ever closer to topping 5 million cases, which health officials believe will happen by the end of the day.

    Early data figures released by a Johns Hopkins University tracker noted that the US had documented an additional 59,692 COVID-19 cases by early Friday, and that the nation had recorded 1,250 new coronavirus-related deaths - a steep drop thus far from Thursday figures which saw the US record over 2,000 deaths.

    The university tracker indicated that despite cases in some US states hitting a plateau, thousands of new cases are emerging in several other states. Early Friday data indicated that the top five US states with rising cases are California, Florida, Texas, Georgia and Tennessee, with the Golden State recording nearly 11,000 new cases.

    Although the US as a whole has a COVID-19 test positivity rate of 7.75%, the same cannot be said for certain individual states such as Mississippi or Florida, which have reported a positive test rate of roughly 22% and 18%, respectively.

    New polling by the Pew Research Center has suggested that most Americans attribute the spike in novel coronavirus infections to state officials prematurely lifting restrictions initially imposed to curb the spread of the disease.

    The polling data also indicates that about 6 in 10 Americans (62%) believe that the US response to the pandemic has been far less effective when compared to measures imposed by similarly wealthy countries.

    At present, states such as Florida have yet to impose statewide mask mandates, instead leaving the decision up to counties and municipalities.

    Globally, the US is still leading the pack with more than 4.8 million total COVID-19 cases since the pandemic began; however, in terms of additional cases reported for Friday, India beat out the US after recording some 62,538 new cases.

    The list of the five countries with the highest new case numbers on Friday was closed out by Brazil with 53,139, Colombia with 11,996 and South Africa with 8,307.

    Model Forecasts US Will Record Nearly 300,000 Deaths by December

    The latest data released by the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) on Thursday predicts that 295,011 Americans would die from COVID-19 by December 1 if current trends continue.

    "We're seeing a rollercoaster in the United States,” Christopher Murray, director of the IHME, said in a news release announcing the university's revised forecast. “It appears that people are wearing masks and socially distancing more frequently as infections increase, then after a while as infections drop, people let their guard down.”

    The IHME also predicts that if all Americans were to wear masks, the projected COVID-19 death toll by December 1 would drop to 228,271, whereas if all masking mandates were eased, it would rise to nearly 400,000.

    Many experts have speculated that the recent uptick in hot spots is largely due to Americans traveling during the summer months. Anthony Fauci, who is the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and serves on the White House Coronavirus Task Force, recently remarked to CNN that such travel “is a predictor of trouble ahead.”


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