Just days ahead of the presidential election, the U.S. set a new daily record for new COVID-19 infections with 99,000 on Friday, according to a database kept by Johns Hopkins University.
The staggering number of infections broke the previous record of more than 88,000, which had been set on Thursday. Prior to that, on Oct. 23, the U.S. recorded nearly 84.000, which broke a daily record which had stood since July.
Overall, the U.S. has recorded more than 9 million COVID-19 cases since the pandemic began. More than 230,000 Americans have died of the virus. Both of those figures are the most recorded in any country throughout the world.
In addition to rising case numbers, the U.S. is also experiencing a spike in hospitalizations linked to the virus. COVID-19 daily deaths have held fairly steady in recent months since a slight uptick in the summer.
The surge in cases comes as Americans head to the polls for the 2020 election — and Pew Research polling shows that more than half of Americans believe the pandemic is a "very important" issue that will affect their vote. However, the importance of COVID-19 seems to break down among party lines — 82% of Democrats consider the pandemic to be an important issue, while just 24% of Republicans believe it to be important.
Despite rising case numbers and hospitalization rates, President Donald Trump has insisted that the U.S. is "rounding the corner" on the pandemic and has touted his administration's work in the pre-production of the vaccine. He's also hinted that he intends to fire Dr. Anthony Fauci — his administration's top infectious disease expert and one of the most respected members of the White House coronavirus task force.
Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden has repeated that he will let science drive his decisions when it comes to the pandemic and has said he supports a mask mandate on federal property.
Fauci and other top health officials believe the U.S. is in a perilous position as cases spike ahead of winter months. Last week, Fauci said he felt the country will experience "a whole lot of pain" this winter if things don't change in the coming weeks.