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U.S. COVID-19 cases soar as Pence's staff at White House test positive

Oct 25 (Reuters) - A new coronavirus outbreak at the White House involving Vice President Mike Pence’s staff comes as the United States reported a near-record number of new cases on Saturday.

The United States reported 79,852 new infections on Saturday, close to the previous day's record of 84,244 new cases. Hospitalizations are also rising and have hit a two-month high and deaths are also trending upwards, according to a Reuters tally. (Graphic: tmsnrt.rs/34pvUyi)

Late on Saturday a spokesman for Pence said Marc Short, Pence’s chief of staff, had tested positive for the new coronavirus. Pence and his wife tested negative earlier in the day and the vice president will not alter his schedule as he campaigns ahead of the Nov. 3 election, the spokesman said.

Mark Meadows, White House chief of staff, told CNN on Sunday that Pence was an essential worker and did not need to quarantine as recommended by guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Some of Pence’s aides also tested positive, Meadows said.

The latest outbreak follows what health experts described as a super-spreader event at the White House on Sept. 26 where President Donald Trump announced his nomination of Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court.

So far in October, 29 states have set records for increases in new cases, including five states considered key in the presidential election: Ohio, Michigan, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.

Hospitals are strained in several states including North Dakota, which is the hardest hit based on recent new cases per capita, according to a Reuters analysis.

Reporting by Lisa Shumaker in Chicago; Editing by Daniel Wallis

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