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US mayors warned on Sunday that their cities were in danger of being overwhelmed by a surge in covid-19 cases as they pushed back against governors’ decisions to re-open states and President Donald Trump’s claims that the disease is under control.
Across the US, the nationwide rolling seven-day average of new cases hit 48,361 - an increase of 11,740 on the past week.
In all 18 states have reported new records, prompting local officials to warn that they are in danger of being overwhelmed.
Judge Lina Hidalgo, the senior official in Harris County, Texas which includes Houston warned: “We don’t have room to experiment, we don’t have room for incrementalism when we’re seeing these kinds of numbers.
“Nor should we wait for all the hospital beds to fill and all these people to die before we take drastic action.”
The warnings came as 239 scientists from 32 countries wrote an open letter to the World Health Organisation accusing it of underplaying the risk of airborne transmission of the disease.
The letter, which the researchers plan to publish in a scientific journal this week, outlines evidence that novel coronavirus in smaller particles in the air can infect people and calls for the WHO to revise recommendations, according to the New York Times.
Over the weekend Mr Trump played down the severity of the crisis, insisting that 99 per cent of cases were “totally harmless”.
According to figures produced by Johns Hopkins University of Medicine, the global authority on the disease, the US fatality rate currently stands at 4.6 per cent.
In Florida, the state shattered its record over the weekend with 11,458 cases reported on Saturday.
The surge has raised serious concerns over the viability of holding the Republican convention in Jacksonville in late August.
Stephen Hahn, the Food and Drug Administration Commissioner, voiced doubts over whether it would be safe to do so.
"I think it's too early to tell," he said on CNN's "State of the Union" program. "We will have to see how this unfolds in Florida and elsewhere around the country."