‘It’s going away’: US shatters virus record
The United States has set a new record for the highest number of new coronavirus infections in a single day, hours after President Donald Trump insisted once again that the virus was "going away".
America reported 77,640 new cases on Thursday, according to NBC News, surpassing its previous record of 75,723 set on July 29.
It also suffered another 921 deaths, with the total death toll now well over 220,000.
Infections are currently surging across most of the country, but particularly in its Midwestern states. The US appears to be reaching its third peak of the pandemic, and more than 40,000 of its people are currently hospitalised.
During last night's final presidential debate, Mr Trump told Americans they were "rounding the turn" and those surges in infections would soon be gone.
"As you know, 2.2 million people, modelled out, were expected to die," Mr Trump said.
He was referring to a study published by British academics back in March, which predicted what would happen if governments and citizens did nothing whatsoever to slow the virus's spread. It was not an expectation so much as a worst-case scenario.
"It's a worldwide pandemic, it's all over the world. You see the spikes in Europe and many other countries," Mr Trump continued.
"There was a very big spike in Texas. It's now gone. There was a very big spike in Arizona. It's now gone. And there are some spikes and surges in other places, they will soon be gone.
"We have a vaccine that's coming. It's ready. It's going to be announced within weeks. And it's going to be delivered.
"We're rounding the turn, we're rounding the corner. It's going away."
Mr Trump's election opponent, Democratic nominee Joe Biden, said Mr Trump's handling of the pandemic alone should convince Americans not to re-elect him.
"(There are) 220,000 Americans dead," Mr Biden said.
"Anyone responsible for that many deaths should not remain as President of the United States.
"The expectation is we'll have another 200,000 Americans dead between now and the end of the year. And we're in a circumstance where the President, thus far and still, has no plan, no comprehensive plan."
The two candidates argued over the correct approach to the virus moving forward, with the President telling voters Mr Biden would send them back into lockdown.
"We're learning to live with it, we have no choice, we can't lock ourselves up in our basement like Joe does," said Mr Trump.
"He has this thing about living in a basement.
"I caught it, I learned a lot, great doctors, and now I recovered, 99.9 per cent of young people recover. Ninety-nine per cent of people recover.
"We can't close up our nation."
"He says we're learning to live with it. People are learning to die with it," Mr Biden replied.
"Learning to live with it. Come on. People are dying."
"It's not my fault that it came here, it's China's fault," Mr Trump said.
"They kept it from going into the rest of China for the most part, but they didn't keep it from coming out in to the world."
Mr Biden said the issue was not the origin of the virus, but how the President reacted to it.
"When we knew it was coming, when it hit, what happened? What did the President say? He said don't worry, it's going to go away," the Democrat said.
"Even today, he thinks we are in control. We're about to lose 200,000 more people."
Mr Trump brought up the travel restrictions he imposed on China at the start of February.
"When I closed, he said I shouldn't have closed. And that went on for months," the President said of his opponent.
"Now he says I should have closed it earlier."
He said Mr Biden had called him "xenophobic" for imposing the partial travel ban.
"I talked about his xenophobia in a different context. Not in terms of closing the border," Mr Biden responded.
"We have to open our country. We can't get this country closed. This is a massive country with a massive economy. People are losing their jobs, they are committing suicide, there is depression, alcohol, drugs, at a level that nobody has ever seen before," Mr Trump argued.
"We have to open our country. I have said it often, the cure cannot be worse than the problem itself, and that is what is happening.
"And he wants to close down - he will close down the country if one person in our massive bureaucracy says we should close it down."
"Definitely not true," Mr Biden replied.
"You have to be able to walk and chew gum at the same time. We have to be able to safely open. We need resources to open.
"You need to be able to, for example, if you're going to open a business, have social distancing within the business. You need to have, if you have a restaurant, plexiglass dividers so people cannot infect one another."
Mr Trump did not like the plexiglass idea at all. He brought up the situation in his home city, New York, calling it a "ghost town".
"I will say this. If you look at what has happened to New York, it is a ghost town," the President told viewers.
"And when you talk about plexiglass, these are restaurants that are dying. These are businesses with no money. Putting up plexiglass is unbelievably expensive and it is not the answer.
"What, you're going to sit there in a cubicle wrapped around in plastic? These are businesses that are dying, Joe. He can't do that to people. You just can't.
"Take a look at New York what has happened to my wonderful city for so many years. I loved it, it was vibrant but now it is dying and everybody is leaving New York."
"Take a look at what New York has done in terms of turning down, in terms of the number of people dying," Mr Biden shot back.
"I don't look at this in the way he does."
Mr Trump has been insisting the virus is going away since the early months of the pandemic.
With the election fast approaching, he has continued to hold large political rallies with thousands of attendees packed together, no social distancing, and only a minority of people wearing face masks.
Earlier this week, a study by Columbia University found between 130,000 and 210,000 of America's coronavirus deaths were preventable, and could have been avoided if political leaders had acted sooner with "more robust" measures to contain the disease's spread.
Originally published as 'It's going away': US shatters virus record