The United States has set a daily record for coronavirus cases as a new surge of the virus raises fears of a further increase during the cold fall and winter months.
According to The New York Times, more than 82,000 cases were reported across the United States by Friday evening, breaking a single-day record set July 16 by more than 6,000 cases.
The Times also reported that around 41,000 Americans are currently in the hospital, which represents a 41% increase from the past month. The northern Rocky Mountain states and the upper Midwest are currently seeing spikes in reported cases.
A new estimate by the University of Washington's Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation on Friday said the U.S. death toll from COVID-19 could surpass 500,000 by February unless nearly all Americans wear face masks. It said the number of possible deaths could drop by 130,000 if 95% of Americans would wear face coverings.
In Europe, France surpassed 1 million confirmed coronavirus cases, registering a record 42,032 cases in 24 hours.
France becomes the seventh country to pass the milestone, after the United States, India, Brazil, Russia, Argentina and Spain.
Epidemiologist Arnaud Fontanet, a member of the scientific council advising the French government, said, "The virus is circulating more quickly than in the spring."
President Emmanuel Macron said a curfew that took effect Friday night for two-thirds of France could be tightened if the restrictions do not lead to a lowering of coronavirus cases.
Residents in many European countries, including parts of Germany, Spain, Italy, Britain, and Slovakia, are facing more restrictions in their daily lives as officials impose curfews and limits on social interaction.
Countries are scrambling to look for ways to slow the spread but also to avoid the blanket lockdowns imposed earlier this year that have taken a massive economic toll and have little public support.
Hundreds of protesters in Naples, Italy, protested Friday night over a new regional curfew. Demonstrators threw smoke bombs, and police responded with tear gas. Italy reached a new daily high Friday of nearly 20,000 coronavirus cases.
Wales began a shutdown of nonessential businesses Friday night that will last until Nov. 9. Shops restaurants and bars will be under a severe two-week lockdown.
"A firebreak period is our best chance of regaining control of the virus and avoiding a much longer and much more damaging national lockdown," First Minister Mark Drakeford said earlier this week.
Poland announced the entire country will become a "red zone" of strict restrictions starting Saturday, just short of a lockdown. The country is closing restaurants and bars, limiting public gatherings to five people, and requiring masks at all times outdoors.
Other countries are taking less severe measures.
Belgium, one of the hardest-hit countries, restricted social contacts and banned spectators from sporting events. Denmark said it would lower the limit on public gatherings from 50 people to 10 and would ban the sale of alcohol after 10 p.m.
The New York Times reported data from the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control show that despite the jump in cases, hospitalizations in Europe are "still less than half of the peak in March and April," but are rising steadily each week.
Researchers around the world are racing to develop a safe and effective vaccine against COVID-19, which has killed more than 1.1 million globally and sickened more than 42 million.