Texas became the first U.S. state Wednesday to surpass 1 million confirmed cases of COVID-19, with California close behind.
Health officials in the country's second most populous state recorded 10,800 new cases on Tuesday, a one-day record. Although they gave no indication of imminent restrictions to slow the surge, The Associated Press reported that a top county official in Fort Worth, the state's fifth-largest city, began pushing to halt youth and school sports. Some rural hospitals have set up outdoor medical tents.
On Wednesday, state health officials reported 6,779 patients in hospitals, with 609 newly admitted patients — one of the highest single-day spikes since the state began keeping track.
The true number of infections is likely higher because many people have not been tested, and studies suggest people can be infected and not feel sick.
The United States recorded 61,964 COVID-19 hospitalizations on Tuesday, breaking the previous one-day high from mid-April by more than 2,000.
As the pandemic worsens across the U.S., the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention revised its guidance on the use of face masks. The federal health agency said Tuesday that wearing a mask not only protects other people but also protects the wearer.
The CDC cited several studies confirming that “universal masking” helped control the spread of the virus, including one involving two hairstylists who wore masks while suffering from symptoms. The study found that the stylists had not transmitted the coronavirus to 67 customers who were later notified by contact tracers.
On Wednesday, White House political affairs director Brian Jack and former White House aide Healy Baumgardner tested positive for the coronavirus after attending an election night party at the White House on November 3. Since then, White House chief of staff Mark Meadows and Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson also tested positive.
The U.S. leads the world with more than 10.2 million total cases, including more than 136,000 new cases reported on Tuesday, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. The U.S. reported more than 1 million new COVID-19 cases in just the first 10 days of November, averaging more than 110,000 new cases a day.
COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, has claimed over 1.2 million lives worldwide since the first cases were recorded in December 2019.
According to the latest figures from Johns Hopkins, more than 51 million cases have been confirmed around the world.
Britain on Wednesday became the fifth country in the world to record over 50,000 deaths from the coronavirus and currently has the highest COVID-19 death rate in Europe. British lawmakers mandated a countrywide lockdown last week as the nation began battling a resurgence of the virus.
Spain has recorded over 40,000 deaths, while Italy, one of the worst-hit countries earlier this year in the pandemic, surpassed 1 million cases.
Elsewhere in the world, Iran and Lebanon joined the growing list of nations that have imposed new restrictions to blunt a growing surge of infections that are pushing hospitals in each nation to the breaking point.
Iran has ordered all restaurants and nonessential businesses in Tehran and other major cities to close at 6 p.m. local time for one month. In Lebanon, Prime Minister Hassan Diab has announced a one-month lockdown that will begin Saturday.
Iran has more than 700,000 confirmed cases, including 10,339 on Tuesday, according to Johns Hopkins, while Lebanon has 96,907 confirmed cases, including 749 deaths.
First case in Vanuatu
Meanwhile, the Pacific nation of Vanuatu announced its first confirmed infection, ending its status as one of the few places in the world that had been free of the coronavirus.
Health authorities said the infected man, a 23-year-old native of Vanuatu, had returned home from the United States last week, with stops in Sydney and Auckland, Australia, and had been placed in quarantine. The man was asymptomatic when he returned but tested positive on Tuesday.
Hong Kong and Singapore announced plans to start an air travel “bubble” this month that would allow travelers from each city to visit the other without entering quarantine. Beginning November 22, visitors must have a negative test at every stage of the journey.
The two cities say the flights will be limited to one per day into each city, with just 200 passengers per flight. The goal is two flights a day beginning December 7. The bubble will be suspended if either city experiences a surge of infections.
Richard Green and Esha Sarai contributed to this report.