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Coronavirus latest: New US infections drop to 4-month low

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Peter Wells in New York

The US on Monday reported its smallest daily increase in new coronavirus cases in more than four months, continuing recent glimmers of hope for the country’s management of the pandemic.

States reported an additional 52,530 infections, down from 58,702 on Sunday, according to Covid Tracking Project. It was the smallest one-day increase in cases since October 18.

Over the past week, the US has averaged 64,034 new cases a day, which is the lowest the rate since late October. This represents a drop of 74 per cent from a peak rate in early January of more than 247,000 cases a day.

However, Rochelle Walensky, director of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, cautioned at the White House’s coronavirus response briefing on Monday afternoon that while the average has been declining for the past five weeks, it is still “high” and on par with the summer surge when states in the sunbelt were among the most afflicted.

Casting a shadow over Monday’s figures, the US death toll topped 500,000 for the first time, according to Johns Hopkins University. Covid Tracking Project, whose data the Financial Times use for analysis, put the death toll at 490,382.

“Since our dataset uses [New York State] reported deaths which does not include the more than 8,000 deaths that are reported by [New York City], our total death count is lagging behind other trackers that marked 500k deaths today,” Covid Tracking Project said in a Twitter message, adding that it recognised coronavirus deaths in the US “are an undercount”.

Authorities on Monday attributed a further 1,235 deaths to coronavirus, the smallest one-day increase in seven days.

The number of patients currently hospitalised in the US with coronavirus dropped to 55,403, the lowest level since early November.

Figures on Monday tend to be lower than other days of the week due to weekend delays in reporting. Severe winter weather may also still be having a dampening effect on data from states due to closures of testing and vaccination sites and power outages.

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