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A medical technologist processes test samples for the coronavirus at a lab in Tampa, Florida, on June 25. Photo: Octavio Jones/Getty Images

The number of people to test positive for the novel coronavirus in the U.S. surpassed 50,000 for the first time ever on Wednesday, Johns Hopkins data shows.

Driving the news: The pandemic is accelerating across the U.S., with the Sun Belt being hit particularly hard. Daily coronavirus case records were reported on Wednesday in Texas (8,076), Arizona (4,878), Georgia (2,946), North Carolina (1,843) and Tennessee (1,806).

  • As the outbreak worsens throughout the South and the West, caseloads are growing fastest in counties with large communities of color, Axios' Caitlin Owens notes.

By the numbers: Across the U.S., almost 2.7 million people had tested positive for COVID-19 from more than 32.8 million tests as of Thursday morning, per Johns Hopkins. Over 128,000 Americans have died from the virus.

  • The U.S. reported on Wednesday 50,655 new cases in a single day.

What they're saying: NIAID director Anthony Fauci testified to a Senate committee Tuesday that the U.S. was seeing about 40,000 new cases daily and that number would rise rapidly "if this does not turn around." He said he would "not be surprised" if the U.S. begins reporting up to 100,000 new cases per day.

  • On Monday CDC principal deputy director Anne Schuchat told The Journal of the American Medical Association, "This is really the beginning, and what we hope is that we can take it seriously and slow the transmission."
  • President Trump told Fox Business Wednesday, "We're heading back in a very strong fashion, with a V. And I think we're going to be very good with the coronavirus. I think at some point that's going to sort of just disappear, I hope. ... And I think we're going to have a vaccine very soon too."

Between the lines: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warned in June that the country's total number of infections may be closer to more than 23 million — or around 10 times the 2.3 million confirmed cases at the time.

  • Former FDA commissioner Scott Gottlieb told CNBC Wednesday, "We're probably diagnosing maybe one in 10 infections nationally. So the 40,000–50,000 infections that we're diagnosing each day right now really represents 400,000–500,000 infections. "

Of note: State governors across the country have been pausing or adjusting reopening plans in recent days in response to the surging cases.

Go deeper: People of color have less access to coronavirus testing

Editor's note: This article has been updated with new details throughout.

Go deeper

Updated 5 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

  1. Health: CDC director defends agency's response to pandemic — CDC warns highly transmissible coronavirus variant could become dominant in U.S. in March.
  2. Politics: Empire State Building among hundreds to light up in Biden inauguration coronavirus tribute.
  3. Vaccine: Fauci: 100 million doses in 100 days is "absolutely" doable.
  4. Economy: Unemployment filings explode again.
  5. Tech: Kids' screen time sees a big increase.
Updated Oct 10, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Lindsey Graham refuses to take COVID test for Senate debate in SC

Graham talks with reporters in the Dirksen Senate Office Building. Photo: Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images

Senator Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) refused to take a COVID-19 test as demanded by his Democratic challenger, Jaime Harrison, forcing organizers of Friday's U.S. Senate debate to change the format at the last minute.

Why it matters: If Graham were to test positive for the virus it could delay confirmation hearings on Trump's Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett.

Trump says he's off coronavirus treatment medication

President Trump said he has been off coronavirus medication for at least eight hours, in his first televised event since his hospitalization for treatment of COVID-19.

Why it matters: Trump claimed on Fox News that he went to Walter Reed Medical Center because he felt tired and denied that he received supplemental oxygen because he had trouble breathing. White House physician Sean Conley said last week that the president received oxygen after his oxygen saturation level dropped below 94%.

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