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US sees highest number of new coronavirus cases since August
The United States on Thursday reported more than 56,000 new confirmed cases of COVID-19, making it the country's highest daily increase since mid-August, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.
The increase brings the total number of U.S. cases to more than 7.6 million, with nearly 213,000 deaths.
According to the data, Wisconsin also reached a record with more than 3,000 coronavirus cases confirmed on Thursday. The state's department of health reported a seven-day average of 2,381 new cases.
In a tweet Thursday evening following reports of the record increase, Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers (D) called on residents to "get back to the basics in fighting this virus," urging everyone to "please stay home, limit gatherings and travel, and wear a mask whenever you go out so we can flatten the curve and get back on track."
The data also indicated increasing infections in several states, with Illinois reporting more than 3,000 new infections on Thursday for the first time in more than a month, and North Carolina recording a repeat of July peak levels at 2,400 newly confirmed cases Thursday.
Multiple analysts from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have also recently reported that there could be an increase in hospitalizations across the country over the next month.
New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy (D) announced at a press conference Thursday that coronavirus-related hospitalizations in the state reached 652, making it the highest it has been since early August, according to The Wall Street Journal. The governor said that approximately 148 people were currently in intensive care units, with 52 of these patients on ventilators.
These rising cases across the U.S. come as several companies are racing to complete testing of potential vaccines.
The U.S. government's handling of the pandemic and the timeline for a possible vaccine were a central focus of Tuesday night's vice presidential debate between Vice President Pence and Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.).
Trump has repeatedly pledged that a COVID-19 vaccine will be ready before the Nov. 3 elections, despite contrasting timelines from experts, public health officials and the pharmaceutical companies.
Harris responded to Trump's timeline in Tuesday night's debate, saying that she would be "first in line" for a COVID-19 vaccine if public health officials said it was safe, but not if that guarantee came solely from Trump himself.
On Thursday, the Financial Times reported new documents revealing that British pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca, one of a number of companies currently developing a coronavirus vaccine candidate, has the right to declare the end to the pandemic as soon as July 2021 based on an agreement between with Brazilian manufacturer Fiocruz.
AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson have both promised not to profit from the COVID-19 vaccine during the pandemic. Other companies in the process of developing vaccines, including Pfizer and Moderna, have not made similar promises.