But US health officials have said the real number of infections is probably 10 times higher, or close to 10 per cent of the population.
The new daily figures showing a rise of more than 58,000 on Wednesday is more than six and a half times Australia’s national total.
A nurse puts on protective gear before administering a coronavirus test in Omaha, Neb., Wednesday, July 8, 2020. (AP/Nati Hamik)
The numbers have been surging in recent weeks amid a rapid expansion in testing. But experts say the rise cannot be explained as just the result of more testing.
They say the outbreak is worsening, as shown by such warning signs as an increase in the percentage of tests coming back positive for the virus.
Four months, three million confirmed infections and over 130,000 deaths into the US coronavirus outbreak, Americans confronted with an alarming resurgence of the scourge are facing long lines at testing sites and going a week or more without receiving a diagnosis. Some sites are running out of kits even as testing is ramped up.
Beach goers walk along the shore on Miami Beach, which reopened on Tuesday after being closed from July 3 to 6 to prevent the spread of the new coronavirus. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)
Labs are reporting shortages of materials and don’t have enough workers to process the tests, leading to severe backups that could worsen as economies reopen and new infections emerge.
Scenes of testing sites turning away people and motorists waiting in the summer heat in long lines separated into numerous lanes by traffic cones have left Americans frustrated and wondering why the US can’t seem to get its act together, especially after it was given fair warning over the past several months as the virus spread from China to hot spots such as Italy, Spain and New York.
COVID-19 antibody testing and diagnostic testing are administered at a converted vehicle inspection station, July 7, 2020, in San Antonio. Local officials across Texas say their hospitals are becoming increasingly stretched and are in danger of becoming overrun as cases of the coronavirus surge. (AP)
“It’s a hot mess,” said 47-year-old Jennifer Hudson of Tucson, Arizona. “The fact that we’re relying on companies and we don’t have a national response to this, it’s ridiculous. … It’s keeping people who need tests from getting tests.”
It took Hudson five days to make an appointment through a CVS pharmacy near her home. She managed to book a drive-up test on July 5, more than a week after her symptoms – fatigue, shortness of breath, headache and sore throat – first emerged. The clinic informed her that her results would also probably be delayed.
Medical personnel prepare to test hundreds of people lined up in vehicles on Saturday, June 27, 2020, in Phoenix’s western neighborhood of Maryvale. (AP Photo/Matt York)
The number of tests per day in the US is up to about 640,000 on average, an increase from around 518,000 two weeks ago, according to an Associated Press analysis. Newly confirmed infections per day in the US are running at over 50,000, breaking records at practically every turn.
In an especially alarming indicator, the percentage of tests coming back positive for the virus is on the rise across nearly the entire country, hitting almost 27 per cent in Arizona, 19 per cent in Florida and 17 per cent in South Carolina.
As more people are tested, an increase in the raw number of positive tests is to be expected. But if the virus is being brought under control, then the percentage of positive results relative to the total number of tests should be coming down.
– Reported with Associated Press
For breaking news alerts and livestreams straight to your smartphone sign up to the 9News app and set notifications to on at the App Store or Google Play.