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The United States crossed a grim milestone Wednesday in its ongoing fight against the novel coronavirus with a record-setting more than 100,000 new COVID-19 infections reported in a single day.

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By early Wednesday evening, more than 104,000 new infections had been recorded, The Washington Post reported, noting 17 states confirmed record COVID-19 hospitalizations. Those states include Kansas, Tennessee, Virginia, Oklahoma, Montana, Iowa, North Dakota, South Dakota, Ohio, Nebraska, Minnesota, Indiana and West Virginia.

According to a Johns Hopkins University tally, nearly 9.5 million COVID-19 illnesses have been reported nationwide since the pandemic began, resulting in at least 233,650 deaths.

Meanwhile, CNN reported that the country’s five highest days of coronavirus diagnoses have all been recorded since Oct. 29, including the 91,530 new infections confirmed Tuesday.

The nationwide seven-day average of new daily cases now stands at about 86,363, or more than twice what it was on Sept. 4, the network reported, citing Johns Hopkins data.

Francis Collins, director of the National Institutes of Health, urged Americans “to do the right thing” and wear face coverings in public to protect themselves and thwart the virus’ spread as the country heads into the winter and flu season, the Post reported.

Collins, in a prepared statement, referenced a new study published in Nature Medicine that estimated as many as 130,000 lives could be saved by March if the majority of Americans wear masks. If mask-wearing nationwide continues to hover around 50%, however, and social distancing protocols are ignored, the journal’s study indicated the total number of COVID-19 deaths nationwide could top 1 million by the end of February, the Post reported.

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