New U.S. COVID-19 cases rise 13% last week to nearly 400,000

Registered nurse (RN) Amanda Pierce takes a young patient's nasal swab at a coronavirus disease (COVID-19) drive-thru testing site at Froedtert North Hills Health Center in Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin, October 18. (REUTERS/Bing Guan)

The number of new COVID-19 cases in the United States last week rose 13% to more than 393,000, approaching levels last seen during the summer peak, according to a Reuters analysis.

Deaths fell 2% to about 4,900 people for the week ended Oct. 18, according to the analysis of state and county reports. Since the outbreak started, nearly 220,000 people in the country have died and over 8.1 million have become infected with the novel coronavirus.

The United States recorded 69,478 new cases on Friday — the highest single-day total since July 24 and the fifth-highest single-day total since the start of the pandemic.

Thirty-four out of 50 states have seen cases increase for at least two weeks in a row, up from 29 the prior week. They include Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan and North Carolina — all battleground states for the Nov. 3 U.S. presidential election.

In Nevada and South Dakota, more than 35% of tests came back positive for COVID-19 last week, the highest in the country, according to data from The COVID Tracking Project, a volunteer-run effort to track the outbreak. A total of 14 states have a positive test rate of over 10%.

Nationally, the percentage of tests that came back positive rose to 5.4% from 5.0% the prior week.

The World Health Organization considers rates above 5% concerning because it suggests there are more cases in the community that have not yet been uncovered.

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