The continued rise came as Biden was projected to be the winner of the presidential election and promised to take urgent steps to address the pandemic, which has killed more than 237,000 people in the United States, far more than in any other nation.
In remarks late Friday, before news organizations called the election in his favor, Biden said his campaign had already begun organizing to mount an aggressive response to the virus.
“I want everyone, everyone to know, on day one, we’re going to put our plan to control this virus into action,” he said from Wilmington, Del. “We can’t save any of the lives lost, any of those who have been lost, but we can save a lot of lives in the months ahead.”
President Trump, who has made unsubstantiated allegations of election fraud, has yet to concede defeat.
Since its emergence in the United States, the coronavirus has proved a key challenge for the president, who has repeatedly downplayed the severity of the pandemic and largely eschewed a centralized government response as he has sought a second term in office. It also represented a complication in both campaigns to clinch the White House and injected a major element of unpredictability into the electoral season for poll workers, some of whom have had to quarantine after exposure at voting or counting sites, and for voters, who cast ballots by mail in massive numbers.
Biden’s victory was cemented as the country hurtled toward a holiday season that public health experts have cautioned could accelerate already skyrocketing infection rates, as people travel to see friends and family for Thanksgiving and colder weather forces people indoors. Global health authorities have also warned of mounting virus fatigue that in many places has blunted public adherence to precautions such as social distancing.
Some scientists predict the crisis will peak for the United States in mid- to late January, just as Biden is sworn into office.
Biden is expected to announce a coronavirus task force Monday, according to two people familiar with the plans, who also cautioned that the timing could change and who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to publicly discuss the plans. Among its co-chairs are Vivek H. Murthy, surgeon general during the Obama administration, and David Kessler, Food and Drug Administration commissioner under George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton.
Tom Frieden, who was director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention during the Obama administration, recommended targeted closures and faster response to infections in response to the “national tsunami” of infections.
“The sooner we shut, the softer and shorter we can shut,” he said Friday on Twitter. “We can minimize disruption to holiday shopping, jobs, and education, and also find and reduce the major drivers of spread. To have happier holidays at the end of the year, we must stay much safer for the next 6 weeks.”
A CDC report affirmed the effectiveness of measures Frieden and other public health experts have advocated, including contact tracing, case investigations and stay-at-home rules.
The study, released Friday, found that in following the implementation of multiple public health precautions in Delaware in the months leading to late June, disease incidence fell by 82 percent, hospitalization by 88 percent and mortality by 100 percent.
“The combination of state-mandated community mitigation efforts and routine public health interventions can reduce the occurrence of new COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations, and deaths,” the report stated.
Even as national attention began to shift to the incoming Biden administration, White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows on Friday became the latest senior Trump aide to test positive for the coronavirus. Officials at the White House have routinely defied public health guidance regarding indoor gatherings and masks.
Meadows has been among the presidential advisers who counseled the president to avoid focusing on the virus and said last month that the administration was not trying to control its spread. His diagnosis came roughly a month after Trump became ill with covid-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus.
Meadows was photographed as recently as Wednesday interacting with supporters at the White House while not wearing a mask.
The growing caseload came as the U.S. military provided assistance to authorities facing acute challenges in southern Texas. On Friday, U.S. Army North said it was sending three Air Force medical specialty teams to El Paso following a request from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
The teams, each of which includes 20 medical providers drawn from bases across the country, will be sent to three hospitals in the hard-hit border city and were expected to arrive this weekend.
Yasmeen Abutaleb and Laurie McGinley contributed to this report.