The United States recorded a further 1,260 deaths from COVID-19 on Friday, bringing its total to 95,921 since the global pandemic began, according to a tally kept by Johns Hopkins University.
The country has also officially logged more than 1.6 million cases of the virus, far more than any other nation, the tracker kept by the Baltimore-based university showed at 8:30 pm (0030 GMT Saturday).
The tolls climbed ever higher even as US President Donald Trump, facing an uphill battle to be reelected in November, continued to pressure state and local governments to reopen the American economy.
On Friday he demanded state governors classify churches, synagogues and mosques as “essential services” on the same level as food and drug stores, and immediately allow them to hold services despite COVID-19 restrictions on public gatherings.
“The governors need to do the right thing and allow these very important essential places of faith to open right now, for this weekend,” said the president — who counts religious conservatives as a core of his electoral base.
“If they don’t do it, I will override the governors. In America, we need more prayer, not less.”
As governors generally have the power to order openings and closings, it was not clear whether Trump had any authority to force them to remove restrictions on worship services.
But Trump has previously given his support to street protests demanding the end of lockdown measures.