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U.S. Coronavirus Deaths Top 140,000 As World Sets Daily Record In New Cases

A street artist spray-paints a protective face mask over an old mural featuring a Venezuelan Indigenous man in Caracas, Venezuela, on Saturday. Globally, new daily cases hit an all-time high on Saturday, the World Health Organization reports.
A street artist spray-paints a protective face mask over an old mural featuring a Venezuelan Indigenous man in Caracas, Venezuela, on Saturday. Globally, new daily cases hit an all-time high on Saturday, the World Health Organization reports.

Updated at 4:30 a.m. ET Sunday

Over a 24-hour period, the world saw nearly 260,000 new coronavirus cases — a new record. Deaths were also on the rise, with 7,360 new fatalities reported Saturday in the highest one-day increase since May.

The World Health Organization announced the numbers on Saturday. The United States, Brazil, India and South Africa accounted for more than 165,000 of the cases. The WHO said it included more than 11,000 new cases from Kyrgyzstan on Saturday because of a change in reporting criteria.

Globally, nearly 600,000 people have been killed by the virus, according to data from the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center. Deaths in the U.S. surpassed 140,000, accounting for almost a quarter of the world's COVID-19 fatalities.

On the testing front, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration gave emergency approval on Saturday to Quest Diagnostics to use its test for active coronavirus infections with "pooled" samples. Specimens from up to four people can be tested together; if the results come back negative, health officials will know that none of those individuals tested has the virus. A positive result would be followed up by individual testing of the samples.

FDA Commissioner Stephen Hahn said sample pooling would let more Americans be tested more quickly, while also preserving testing supplies. "Sample pooling becomes especially important as infection rates decline and we begin testing larger portions of the population," he said in a statement.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported more than 74,000 new coronavirus cases across the U.S. on Saturday, fueled by record or near-record increases in several states.

Arizona saw its highest daily number of deaths, reporting 147 people killed by the virus and over 2,700 new cases. The high number was reportedly partially caused by a review of death certificates. It brought the total death count in Arizona to 2,730.

North Carolina also saw a one-day record on Saturday, announcing over 2,400 new cases. Texas reported 130 deaths on Saturday, a day after setting a state record on Friday for most deaths in one day, with 174 people succumbing to the virus.

In Florida, also besieged by the virus, officials confirmed more than 10,300 new cases of the virus over the past day, with 90 deaths. That brings the death toll in Florida to more than 5,000. It's the first day in five days that the death count was below 100, according to The Miami Herald.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said that one reason for the high number of cases was that the state received 143,000 coronavirus test results that day. "It's important to put that in context, because I think a lot of people see cases, I think they get really, really scared, and my message is fear is our enemy," DeSantis said Saturday.

The median age of people getting infected in Florida continues to drop, DeSantis said. In Miami-Dade County, the median age is 41; in Orange County, it's 29; and in Seminole County, it's 26.

Missouri also set a record for daily increases, with 958 new cases reported Saturday. The seven-day average of new cases is 731, up from 560 one week earlier.

An internal White House coronavirus task force document has placed 18 states in the "red zone," with 100 new cases per 100,000 people last week, the Center for Public Integrity first reported Thursday.

In a speech Saturday, U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres said that the pandemic has demonstrated how fragile the world really is.

"It has laid bare risks we have ignored for decades: inadequate health systems, gaps in social protection, structural inequalities, environmental degradation, the climate crisis," Guterres said.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Matthew S. Schwartz is a reporter with NPR's news desk. Before coming to NPR, Schwartz worked as a reporter for Washington, DC, member station WAMU, where he won the national Edward R. Murrow award for feature reporting in large market radio. Previously, Schwartz worked as a technology reporter covering the intricacies of Internet regulation. In a past life, Schwartz was a Washington telecom lawyer. He got his J.D. from Georgetown University Law Center, and his B.A. from the University of Michigan ("Go Blue!").