The United States surpassed 130,000 deaths in its battle with the coronavirus pandemic on Monday as new cases surge throughout the country, placing President Donald Trump's response to the crisis under increasing scrutiny.
Confirmed deaths were at 130,007 as of Monday afternoon eastern US time, according to the Johns Hopkins University tally.
Nationally, cases are approaching three million, the highest tally in the world and double the infections reported in the second-most affected country Brazil. Case numbers are rising in 39 US states, according to a Reuters analysis.
The majority of the states not experiencing an increase are found in the northwest, including New York, the former hot spot for infections in the US.
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced on Monday that total hospitalisations in the state had dropped to 817, the lowest point since March 18, thanks in part to widespread testing.
New York, along with New Jersey and Connecticut, have put in place a 14-day quarantine for out of state travellers.
Today's update on the numbers:
54,328 tests were performed yesterday. 518 tests came back positive (0.95% of total).
Total hospitalizations fell to 817.
Sadly, there were 9 COVID fatalities yesterday. pic.twitter.com/YIMC5yS4mb— Andrew Cuomo (@NYGovCuomo) July 6, 2020
As health experts cautioned the public not to gather in crowds to celebrate Independence Day over the weekend, US President Donald Trump asserted without providing evidence that 99 percent of US coronavirus cases were "totally harmless".
At least five states have already bucked the downward trend in the national death rate, a Reuters analysis showed.
Arizona had 449 deaths in the last two weeks of June, up from 259 deaths in the first two weeks of the month. The state posted a 300 percent rise in cases across the full month, the most in the country.
Steve Adler, the Democratic mayor of Austin, Texas, on Monday criticised Trump's comment over the weekend that the virus was mostly harmless.
"It's incredibly disruptive, and the messaging coming from the president of the United States is dangerous," Adler told CNN. "One of the biggest challenges we have is the messaging coming out of Washington that would suggest that masks don't work or it's not necessary, or that the virus is going away on its own."
Soaring case numbers and packed hospitals in Texas have prompted some mayors and other local leaders to consider launching a new round of stay-at-home orders. Cities are getting together and lobbying the state's governor to restore the authority to impose local anti-coronavirus measures, Adler said.
White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows on Monday defended Trump's weekend comment, saying the president was not trying to play down the deaths.
"But it's really to look statistically to know that whatever risks that you may have or I may have, or my, my children or my grandchildren may have, let's look at that appropriately, and I think that's what he's trying to do," he told reporters outside the White House.
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has forecast between 140,000 to 160,000 coronavirus deaths by July 25 in projections that are based on 24 independent forecasts.