Midwest states emerge as the nation’s growing hotspot while about 185,000 Americans have died so far from the virus
The Iowa governor, Kim Reynolds, during a news conference on the state’s guidance for returning to school in response to the coronavirus outbreak in Des Moines, Iowa. The Iowa governor, Kim Reynolds, during a news conference on the state’s guidance for returning to school in response to the coronavirus outbreak in Des Moines, Iowa. Photograph: Charlie Neibergall/AP

The US reached a grim milestone late on Sunday, topping 6m coronavirus infections nationwide as some states posted record daily totals in newly confirmed cases.

States such as Iowa, both North and South Dakota, as well as Minnesota and others in the midwest have emerged as the nation’s growing hotspot.

The record 6m cases comes amid reports that officials within the White House coronavirus taskforce and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, released guidance, not intended for the public, that directly contradicts Donald Trump and senior officials’ statements on the outbreak.

For example, on 3 August, the president tweeted: “Cases up because of BIG Testing! Much of our Country doing very well. Open the schools!” But the taskforce’s 9 August report had actually “reported that 48 states and the District of Columbia were in red or yellow zones” for outbreak dangers.

Earlier, the president had also reposted messages from online groups who reject his administration’s tracking system, instead promoting a debunked conspiracy theory that the death toll from the virus might be somewhere near 9,000. In fact, some 185,000 people have died so far in the US.

Members have often attacked Dr Anthony Fauci and Dr Deborah Birx, the White House’s experts leading the taskforce’s response. Twitter deleted Trump’s tweet “because it violated [their] Twitter Rules”.

Public health officials, including both Fauci and Birx have instead pinpointed the uptick as a result of reopening schools, colleges and businesses. In an interview with CNN, Birx urged Americans to “do the right thing” by continuing to wear masks and socially distance “because if [Americans] do the right thing today, we go into the fall with much fewer cases”.

But as states vary in their reopening plans, the latest data supports some health officials who say the outbreak may be slowing down in America. Nationwide, new cases, deaths, hospitalizations, as well as the rate of positive tests have all declined. New daily cases have continued their downward trend since late July.

However, while the rate of daily reported deaths remain well below its spring peak, the total more than doubled in average since early July. The US is currently on track to reach a sobering total of 200,000 by mid-September.

Coronavirus cases in the US remain astoundingly higher than most of its global counterparts, accounting for almost a quarter of the world’s 25m confirmed contractions.

As states call for increased federal support, the president instead has faulted four Democratic governors, including New York’s Andrew Cuomo, for their initial handling of the outbreak.

Trump even retweeted a message calling for the governor to be imprisoned. Hours later, the governor responded by claiming “the White House has learned nothing from Covid,” and that “national threats require national leadership”.

“It’s been 6 months without a national strategy on testing or mask mandate,” Cuomo tweeted. “Only the federal government has the power to go to war with Covid. They are failing and the nation suffers.”

Meanwhile, the Trump campaign and surrogates have continued a messaging pivot from rejecting criticism of the administration’s coronavirus response, to touting it as a success. The Twitter account for the entrepreneur and prominent Republican Herman Cain outright downplayed the virus’s impact, despite the businessman having died from the virus just weeks prior. The account is now run by Cain’s estate and family.

“It looks like the virus is not as deadly as the mainstream media first made it out to be,” the tweet read.

The former Republican presidential candidate died from the coronavirus in July after being hospitalized in critical condition.

Cain contracted the virus after attending the president’s 20 June rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma. In the weeks after his death, however, his Twitter account continued to post several times a day, ranging from debunked studies on the virus’s spread to criticisms of Trump’s rival, Democrat Joe Biden.

Sunday’s tweet has since been deleted.