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Covid cases climb in battleground states as final presidential votes are counted

In other coronavirus news: Denmark to cull its population of minks to curb spread, a second Chicago Bear tests positive and unemployment claims dip.
Image: 2020 U.S. presidential election in Arizona
Signs directing to a Covid-19 testing site and a polling station are seen on Election Day in Avondale, Ariz., on Nov. 3, 2020.Edgard Garrido / Reuters

There was no election pause for the pandemic as a record number of new Covid-19 cases were reported Thursday, with many of the infections coming in the battleground states that could determine who will occupy the White House for the next four years.

The 109,000 new coronavirus cases shattered the previous record of 104,296 cases set Wednesday, the latest NBC News analysis confirmed.

Pennsylvania, where the final votes were being counted in Philadelphia and Pittsburgh and where President Donald Trump and challenger Joe Biden were in a tight race, reported 2,704 new cases overnight along with 38 deaths, according to the latest tally.

Nevada, where Biden appeared to be leading Thursday, logged 1,068 new cases and seven deaths. While in neighboring Arizona, a state where Biden also appeared to be clinging to a lead, reported 815 new infections along with 39 fatalities, the figures showed.

In hard-fought North Carolina 2,490 new infections were reported Thursday morning along with 43 more deaths. On Wednesday, the state reported 68 deaths, a record for North Carolina.

In Georgia, where Biden posed a serious challenge to Trump, health officials reported 2,313 new cases and 493 more deaths. The latest fatality figure, according to the new data, includes a backlog of previously unreported deaths.

Michigan and Wisconsin, two battleground states that were called for Biden on Wednesday, also reported thousands more cases.

"While the state and country turned its eyes to the presidential election, Wisconsin had another record setting day for Covid-19 cases, with 5,935 Wisconsinites testing positive on Wednesday," Gov. Tony Evers said Thursday in his Democratic Radio Address. "Folks, this pandemic isn’t happening someplace else or to somebody else. Wisconsinites in every corner of our state know firsthand the tragedy and loss of this virus."

Michigan reported 4,397 new infections overnight, also one of the highest daily totals that state has reported.

In other coronavirus news:

  • Some 751,000 people filed for unemployment last week, a slight dip from the 758,000 the week before. But around 22 million jobs were lost as a result of the pandemic, and 10 million of those have not yet been recovered.
  • Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation's top infectious diseases expert whose stark appraisals of the Covid-19 crisis have angered Trump, "will be remembered as one of the pandemic's heroes," Dr. Nahid Bhadelia, an NBC News medical contributor, wrote Thursday. Trump has hinted he might fire Fauci after the election is decided.
  • Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell has been appealing to Congress to pass some kind of fiscal stimulus package to keep the uncertain economic recovery going "in increasingly urgent tones," NBC News reported.
  • A Missouri elections supervisor who tested positive last week worked Election Day instead of staying in quarantine and has since died. The cause of death has not been released.
  • Denmark plans to cull its entire population of15 million minksin farms after the animals spread a mutation of Covid-19 to humans.
  • The NFL's Chicago Bears canceled practice and sent all players home after a second player tested positive this week, The Chicago Sun-Times reported. It remained unclear what affect this would have on the team's game Sunday against the Tennessee Titans.

Meanwhile, The Associated Press crunched some post-election numbers and determined that 93 percent of the 376 counties with the most Covid-19 cases per capita voted for Trump. But those were mostly rural counties in Montana, Nebraska, Kansas, Iowa, Wisconsin and North and South Dakota.

The climbing Covid-19 counts came a day after the number of new cases in the United States topped 100,000 for the first time since the start of the pandemic.

The 104,429 cases on Wednesday broke the single-day record of 98,583 cases that was set just last week, NBC News data showed.

That was a 5,846 jump in new cases from the day before, when 91,530 infections were logged.

“The numbers are rising, and we in infectious disease and public health are trembling,” Dr. William Schaffner, at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, Tennessee, said Wednesday.

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy agreed. His state, which went for Biden, added nearly 2,500 new infections, the highest daily count since May 6.

“We’re not out of the woods on Covid, folks,” Murphy said. “Another bad day of numbers. This is going in the wrong direction.”

Ohio, a state Trump won, logged a record 4,961 new Covid-19 cases overnight, The Columbus Dispatch reported. Gov. Mike DeWine, in his Twitter thread, warned that hospitalizations were climbing at a "very, very high rate."

DeWine, a Republican, added that 10 teachers were in quarantine after they were exposed to the virus at a pair of Halloween bashes. And five more people tested positive after going to an Oct. 24 college party attended by 80 people, including some high school kids, the governor tweeted.

The nearly 9.6 million coronavirus cases and 235,448 deaths reported in the U.S. are both world-leading figures, according to the Johns Hopkins University Covid-19 dashboard.

Also, the data showed a surge in Covid-19 hospitalizations, especially across the Midwest and Southwest in states like Iowa, Indiana, Minnesota, Nebraska, North Dakota and New Mexico.

Alaska, as well, has seen a steep rise in hospitalizations, The Anchorage Daily News reported.