US President Donald Trump has claimed, without evidence, that 99% of coronavirus cases in the United States were "totally harmless".

In fact, many states marked a record number of new cases. In Texas alone, 7,890 patients were hospitalised after 238 new admissions over the past 24 hours.

In his Independence Day speech at the White House, Mr Trump, who has faced criticism over his handling of the pandemic, said China must be "held accountable" for failing to contain the disease.

It comes as a tally by Johns Hopkins University shows that the US notched more than 43,000 new Covid-19 cases in 24 hours.

The Baltimore-based university's tracker brings the country's total number of cases since the pandemic began to 2,836,764.

The university also recorded a further 252 fatalities, bringing the total death toll to 129,657.

The uptick in cases came after three consecutive days of record numbers of new infections, including a high of 57,683 on Friday.

Yesterday's lower number could be attributed to less reporting on 4 July national holiday.

The US is the hardest-hit country in the global pandemic, both in caseload and deaths.

Mr Trump also vowed to defeat the "radical left" in his speech at the White House, which condemned recent protests against monuments to historical figures as attempts to destroy the United States.

The administration held a fireworks display over the National Mall as night fell after the President's speech, despite Washington Mayor Muriel Bowser's warnings that the mass spectator event would defy health officials' guidance during the pandemic.

Just steps from where Mr Trump spoke, peaceful protesters marched down blocked-off streets around the White House, Black Lives Matter Plaza and the Lincoln Memorial.

They were confronted by counter-protesters chanting, "USA! USA!" but there were no reports of violence.

Millions of Americans have been demonstrating against police brutality and racial inequality since the 25 May killing of George Floyd, a 46-year-old black man who died after a white Minneapolis police officer knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes.

In addition to achieving police reforms in some cities, some protesters have removed Confederate statues and other symbols of America's legacy of slavery.

"There have always been those who seek to lie about the past in order to gain power in the present, those that are lying about our history, those who want us to be ashamed of who we are," Mr Trump said yesterday. "Their goal is demolition."

Mr Trump's Fourth of July remarks doubled down on his speech the previous evening at Mount Rushmore in South Dakota where he accused "angry mobs" of trying to erase history and painted himself as a bulwark against left-wing extremism.

Just months before November's presidential election, opinion polls in key states show Mr Trump trailing his Democratic rival, former Vice President Joe Biden.

Mr Biden wrote a Fourth of July opinion piece that struck a contrasting note with the Republican president and accused him of finding "new ways to tarnish and dismantle our democracy" every day.

In a separate letter to donors, Mr Biden said: "We have a chance now to give the marginalised, the demonised, the isolated, the oppressed, a full share of the American dream."

Mr Trump, in his speech, also said the United States would have a vaccine or therapeutic solution to the virus "long before" the end of 2020. Such a success could help the US economy and Mr Trump's chances of reelection.

On Thursday, a top US health official said he was optimistic the Trump administration's vaccine-acceleration programme "Operation Warp Speed" will generate a safe and effective vaccine for Covid-19 by year-end.

Apart from fireworks spectators in Washington, activists of different stripes also appeared willing to disregard health warnings.

Roar of the Deplorables, a bikers group, said via social media that they planned to gather to protest against what they call "the anti-Trump regime" and celebrate the nation's birthday.

Freedom Fighters DC, a new activist group which seeks to rally ethnically diverse supporters, especially the black population of Washington, is one of the anti-racism groups ignoring the mayor's heed to refrain from gathering.

"Black folks are not free from the chains of oppression, so we don't get to truly celebrate Independence Day," said Kerrigan Williams, 22, one of the founders of the group.

"We're marching today to showcase that Black folks are still fighting for the simple liberties that the constitution is said to provide."