Another record number of coronavirus cases has overshadowed the start of America's Independence Day weekend.

Florida's confirmed Covid-19 cases rose by a record 11,458 today, the second time in three days that its caseload increased by more than 10,000.

The new record came a day after seven other states also reported record rises in cases of the disease caused by that has killed nearly 130,000 Americans.

The recent surge, most pronounced in southern and western states, has alarmed public health officials, who urged caution during the July 4th holiday weekend to celebrate the Declaration of Independence of the United States in 1776.

With many beaches closed from coast to coast and officials urging Americans to stay home, the sombre mood heading into what is usually a weekend of barbecues and sunshine underscored the struggle to extinguish Covid-19 at the epicentre of the global pandemic.

"It is an unbelievable trajectory," said Faisal Masud, director of critical care at Houston Methodist Hospital in Texas, which officials say is dangerously close to being overwhelmed.

Touching almost every country since it emerged in China late last year, the coronavirus has infected at least 10.9 million and killed 522,000 globally, shattering previously buoyant economies and bringing public life to a standstill.

An almost deserted beach in Daytona, Florida

US President Donald Trump, who was at Mount Rushmore for a fireworks celebration with thousands of attendees in close quarters and masks not required, has so far dismissed the deluge of new cases.

In a tweet on Thursday, he said the rise was because "our testing is so massive and so good, far bigger and better than any other country," calling that "great news".

He added: "Even better news is that death, and the death rate, is DOWN".

But his predecessor Barack Obama called for Americans to be "safe and smart".

Mr Obama tweeted: "It's going to take all of us to beat this virus. So wear a mask. Wash your hands. And listen to the experts, not the folks trying to divide us."

Closures across the US stand in stark contrast to Europe, once the epicentre of the virus but now restarting businesses and lifting travel restrictions, trying to salvage the summer tourist season.


A little less liberty on this Independence Day


Pubs in England are reopening today for the first time since late March, as restaurants, cinemas, galleries, museums and hotels also prepare to welcome back customers.

Travellers arriving into England from more than 50 nations, but not the US or mainland China, will from 10 July no longer be required to undergo 14 days of self-isolation.

The decision follows the European Union, which earlier this week left the US, Brazil and Russia off its final list of nations safe enough to allow their residents to enter its borders.

The EU, meanwhile, authorised the use of the anti-viral drug, remdesivir, for Covid-19, the first treatment approved to deal with the disease, although the United States has bought most of the global stock.

Europe is also beginning a reckoning on its virus response.

French prosecutors said they were opening an inquiry into outgoing prime minister, Edouard Philippe's handling of the virus crisis, following his resignation yesterday.

Edouard Philippe resigned as French prime minister amid a cabinet reshuffle

But despite optimism, the economic fallout is still unfolding.

Air France has become the latest major airline to announce large-scale job losses due to the impact of the pandemic on the global airline industry.

It said it would cut its workforce by 7,580 at Air France and its regional sister airline, Hop! by the end of 2022.

Cases of coronavirus have been skyrocketing across Latin America.

The region now has the second most number of confirmed infections in the world with 2.73 million, ahead of Europe on 2.71 million, but behind North America.

Brazil, the region's largest economy, has 1.5 million confirmed cases and 63,000 deaths, second only to the United States.

Nevertheless, the tourist city of Rio de Janeiro authorised bars, restaurants and cafés to reopen at 50% capacity, while President Jair Bolsonaro has watered down a law requiring the wearing of face masks in public places.

Health workers carry a Covid-19 patient on a stretcher made with pipe tubes and and using kitchen gloves in Puerto Carreno, in Colombia

Cases also continue to surge in the Middle East, where worst-affected Saudi Arabia passed 200,000 infections.

Countries across Africa meanwhile forged ahead with plans to reopen, despite steadily rising cases.

In Asia, however, swift lockdowns have largely made progress, including in Beijing, where most travel restrictions are being lifted after successfully containing a new outbreak.

China also vowed to gradually phase out the slaughter and sale of live poultry at food markets.

The virus is believed to have emerged at a market that sold live animals in the central city of Wuhan late last year.

The World Health Organization called on countries hit by serious outbreaks to "wake up" to the realities.

Its emergencies director, Dr Michael Ryan, told journalists in Geneva: "People need to wake up. The data is not lying." 

He said: "It is never too late in an epidemic to take control."