Total US deaths were approaching 10,000 – more than three times the number killed in the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Centre in New York. There were 337,000 infections across the country by Sunday night. Exactly one month ago the country had confirmed just 214 cases, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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Dr Deborah Birx, the White House coronavirus response coordinator, also said that Italy and Spain promising numbers were “giving us hope for what our future could be”.

Birx also announced some stark testing results, including that in the state of New Jersey, 42% of tests for Covid-19 had come back positive. In Connecticut and Michigan it was 20%.

In a bad-tempered exchange during the briefing Trump branded a reporter “fake news” for questioning why the president continued to say he was “not a doctor”, but at the same time was strongly pushing for the use of the anti-malarial drug, hydroxychorloquine. Trump spent much of the briefing saying there was nothing to lose by trying the medication and boasted that the administration had stockpiled 29m tablets.

Dr Anthony Fauci, the country’s top doctor on infectious diseases, has warned there is no evidence to support the drug’s use for Covid-19, but Trump refused to let him answer a question about it at the briefing.

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