The United States has now recorded over seven million confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus to date as America continues to lead the world in infections at a steady pace.

Public health data compiled by Johns Hopkins University shows the U.S. hit 7,005,746 cases on Friday afternoon.

The milestone also comes three days after the country’s death toll surpassed 200,000.

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200,000 dead, and still no plan to end America’s coronavirus crisis

Both the death toll and the number of cases are believed to be far higher than official tallies, many experts say, due largely to testing shortfalls — particularly in the early months of the pandemic — that missed cases and allowed deaths to be ascribed to other causes.

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California currently leads the country with over 800,000 total cases, according to Johns Hopkins, followed by Texas, Florida and New York, the last of which has seen more deaths than any other state with nearly 34,000.

Although the number of daily cases and deaths have fallen slightly from their second peak this summer, the U.S. is still averaging roughly 40,000 new infections and over 700 deaths each day.

Click to play video 'Coronavirus: Trump says his administration has saved ‘millions of lives,’ makes no mention of reaching 200,000 deaths in U.S.'

Coronavirus: Trump says his administration has saved ‘millions of lives,’ makes no mention of reaching 200,000 deaths in U.S.

Coronavirus: Trump says his administration has saved ‘millions of lives,’ makes no mention of reaching 200,000 deaths in U.S.

That surge was largely driven by southern states along with a resurgence in California. But the past four weeks have seen all states in the country’s Midwest except Ohio report more cases compared with the previous four weeks, led by South Dakota and North Dakota.

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South Dakota had the biggest percentage increase at 166 per cent with 8,129 new cases, while North Dakota’s new cases doubled to 8,752 as compared to 4,243 during the same time in August, according to an analysis of public health data provided by state officials and Johns Hopkins University.

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Many cases in those two states have been linked to the annual motorcycle rally in Sturgis, S.D., that attracts hundreds of thousands of visitors, according to researchers at San Diego State University’s Center for Health Economics & Policy Studies.

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According to a Reuters analysis, positive cases rose in half of the 50 U.S. states this month. Ten states have reported a record one-day increase in COVID-19 cases in September.

New cases rose last week after falling for eight consecutive weeks, which has coincided with the reopening of schools and universities as well as parties over the recent Labor Day holiday.

A study by researchers from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, Indiana University, the University of Washington and Davidson College said the recent reopening of college and university campuses for in-person instruction during late summer this year could be associated with more than 3,000 additional cases of COVID-19 per day in the United States in recent weeks.

Click to play video 'Coronavirus: Fauci spars with Sen. Rand Paul over New York COVID-19 death rate'

Coronavirus: Fauci spars with Sen. Rand Paul over New York COVID-19 death rate

Coronavirus: Fauci spars with Sen. Rand Paul over New York COVID-19 death rate

U.S. confirmed cases are the highest in the world, followed by India with 5.7 million cases and Brazil with 4.6 million.

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Recent weeks have seen growing conflicts between political and scientific messaging on the pandemic as efforts ramp up toward producing an effective vaccine — something President Donald Trump is hoping will be available before the Nov. 3 election.

Top U.S. infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci has said he would like to see the number of daily infections fall below 10,000 per day before flu season starts in October, calling recent trends “disturbing.” The director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Dr. Robert Redfield, told Congress this week that up to 90 per cent of the American population is still at risk of being infected.

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But Trump is continuing to express optimism about the virus, saying the country is “rounding the corner” and falsely comparing the U.S. death rate favourably to European countries.

He has also found no good defence since audio tapes emerged of him telling journalist Bob Woodward during the earliest days of the pandemic that he wanted to “always play it down” to the American people, while sharing details about the virus he never conveyed publicly — including how deadly it is compared to the flu.

In a recent interview with Global News, Fauci expressed his fear that Americans will simply give up and stop taking precautions out of sheer frustration.

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Click to play video 'Coronavirus: Dr. Fauci warns of ‘COVID-19 fatigue’'

Coronavirus: Dr. Fauci warns of ‘COVID-19 fatigue’

Coronavirus: Dr. Fauci warns of ‘COVID-19 fatigue’

“I’m concerned that people are going to get so discouraged, they’re going to loosen up the kinds of attention to public health measures which we need to continue to focus on if we’re going to keep this under control,” Fauci said.

Continue to be careful,” Fauci pleaded. “It will end. We will get back to normal.”

—With files from Global’s Jackson Proskow and Reuters

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© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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