A medical assistant holds a swab after testing a man on Wednesday at the new COVID-19 testing facility at Boston Logan International Airport.

A medical assistant holds a swab after testing a man on Wednesday at the new COVID-19 testing facility at Boston Logan International Airport. / AP

The U.S. recorded 88,521 new coronavirus cases Thursday, more than any other day in the COVID-19 pandemic, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. Nearly a thousand people died from the disease in the U.S. on Thursday, pushing the total to 228,696 lives lost.

In the past week, the U.S. has blown past record levels of infection that were seen in the summer, when new cases topped 77,000 in July. Since last Thursday, the U.S. has posted more than 80,000 cases on several days.

The coronavirus is rippling through populations in North and South Dakota, in Wisconsin, Montana, Wyoming and Idaho – the six states that are reporting at least 50 coronavirus cases per 100,000 people over the past seven days, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The new surge is different from the summer, when large states such as Florida and Texas propelled the rise and many outbreaks were linked to holiday outings. More than a third of U.S. states have reported 10,000 or more cases in the past seven days, according to the CDC, and that list comprises a broad section of the country.

In another alarming trend, U.S. hospitals were treating more than 46,000 COVID-19 patients on Thursday, the COVID Tracking Project says.

Seven days earlier, about 41,000 people were hospitalized in the U.S. The hospitalization rate has risen sharply since September, when it hovered around 30,000 new patients on many days.

Despite the new rise in cases, U.S. deaths from COVID-19 are markedly lower than the tragic heights of the spring and summer. But it's also worth noting that when the U.S. set its summertime record for new cases, on July 16, it reported 947 deaths – slightly lower than Thursday's total. By the end of July, the U.S. daily death rate rose to nearly 1,500, according to the COVID Tracking Project.

Despite advances in treatment that are credited with lowering the U.S. fatality rate, experts warn that the sheer number of new cases, and the strain on hospital systems, will lead to more deaths. Their worries are compounded by the looming winter flu season.

"One case per second in US yesterday," former CDC Director Dr. Tom Frieden said Friday via Twitter.

"Today, every 40 seconds, someone in this country will get a Covid infection that will kill them," Frieden added, calling the U.S. response to the pandemic an unacceptable failure.

The U.S. is now poised to report a total of 9 million coronavirus cases, the most in the world. This week, India joined the U.S. as the only two countries with more than 8 million confirmed cases.

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