As people in the United States wait for the results of a hotly contested presidential election, cases of COVID-19 continue to surge in several parts of the country.
A dozen US states reported record-high new infections this week, Reuters News Agency reported on Thursday, including Illinois and Texas, the two states leading the country in the most cases of COVID-19 reported during the past seven days.
The Illinois Department of Public Health reported 9,935 new cases across the state on Thursday, as well as 97 additional deaths attributed to the novel coronavirus.
The US leads the world with the most cases and deaths linked to COVID-19, and US President Donald Trump has faced months of criticism – including from his Democratic presidential challenger Joe Biden – for how his administration handled the deadly pandemic.
American voters said COVID-19 was their top priority, according to a national survey of the electorate this week, and about six in 10 people said they believed the country was headed in the wrong direction.
The US has recorded more than 9.5 million COVID-19 cases and 234,300 deaths as of Thursday, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.
Meanwhile, in states with surging infection rates, officials are urging caution, while some put new measures in place to stem the spread of the virus.
Maine Governor Janet Mills beefed up an earlier executive order that required mask use when it is difficult to maintain social distance.
Signs must now be posted in public places to notify people that they can be denied entrance for not wearing a mask, the order now states.
A public health order in Alabama also requires masks in public spaces until December 11, although the state lifted on Thursday limits on the number of people in public places, such as stores and fitness centres.
Alabama reported its highest number of new COVID-19 cases since early August on Wednesday and more than 1,020 people were hospitalised – an increase of 45 percent since late September.