With US elections just one day away, coronavirus cases continued to climb in America at a staggering rate while Midwestern states reported record numbers of hospitalizations.
On Saturday, almost 87,000 new cases were reported, with 909 deaths, according to a Reuters tally.
President Donald Trump, the Republican seeking re-election against Democratic challenger Joe Biden has continued to downplay the virus and accused Democrats of overblowing the pandemic that has killed more 230,000 Americans, more than any other country, Reuters reported.
Biden and fellow Democrats have stated Trump is a poor leader who failed to contain COVID-19 in the United States, which also leads the world in the daily average number of new cases.
This comes after Trump falsely accused doctors of profiting from COVID-19 deaths – a statement that drew harsh criticism from the governor of Wisconsin.
“We have a president that believes that the doctors are at fault, they’re messing with the numbers and he believes that it’s over. It ain’t over,” Democratic Governor Tony Evers told CNN’s “State of the Union” on Sunday.
“We have hospitalizations going through the roof,” he said. “We absolutely need somebody that understands that this is an issue, it’s a thing. People are dying.”
Biden campaign adviser Anita Dunn meanwhile came out in defense of doctors after Trump’s attack, saying many hospital workers have not not had adequate protective gear for a long time.
“These people have been risking their lives since the beginning of this crisis,” she said on ABC’s “This Week.”
Reuters reported that Trump’s comments referred to reports on doctors’ billing practices, Trump campaign adviser Jason Miller said on the same program, without elaborating.
Scott Gottlieb, a former Food and Drug Administration commissioner appointed by Trump, told CBS’ “Face the Nation” it was “troubling” to suggest doctors were manipulating data to get higher reimbursements as the country enters a difficult phase.
“Things are getting worse around the country,” and more aggressive actions will be needed to fight the virus’ spread, he said, with December likely to be the toughest month.
Ohio is another state where the infection rate is climbing.
Republican Governor Mike DeWine said: “This thing is really, really spreading in Ohio.”
Speaking to CNN he attributed the increase to more social gatherings, people not wearing masks and letting their guard down.
Meanwhile, Stanford University economists estimated that Trump’s campaign rallies have resulted in 30,000 additional confirmed cases of COVID-19, and likely led to more than 700 deaths overall, according to a paper posted over the weekend.
Infectious disease experts have long suspected that Trump’s campaign rallies might be so-called “superspreader events” but scientists have not been able to confirm this partly due to a lack of contact tracing.
Trump has meanwhile repeatedly disdained masks, even after outbreaks affected his own family and a number of White House staffers, Reuters reports.
In contrast, Biden has stuck to federal health guidelines that discourage large, crowded gatherings during his campaign events and he has called Trump’s handling of the virus negligent and irresponsible.