Trump Says 'We're Learning to Live' With COVID, As U.S. Close to Breaking Record for New Cases

President Donald Trump said "we're learning to live with" COVID-19 at the final presidential debate as the United States recorded its third highest ever number of daily coronavirus cases.

Data from The COVID Tracking Project shows the country reported 73,103 new cases on Thursday. The only two daily totals that were higher came on July 17 and 24—76,842 and 75,235 respectively—during the peak of the second main surge in infections.

The country also recorded more than 1,000 new coronavirus deaths on Thursday as the number of active hospitalizations reached their highest point in nearly two months—around 41,000.

While this number of deaths is significantly lower than figures recorded during April and May—when the number of daily deaths peaked at 2,752—it is relatively high compared to the levels seen across the whole of June and the first half of July.

Over the course of October, the seven-day rolling average of daily deaths in the country has hovered around the 700-750 mark.

Trump made his latest comments in response to claims from his challenger, Democratic Presidential nominee Joe Biden, that the president had no clear plan to tackle the spread of the virus with the winter fast approaching.

"We're about to go into a dark winter, a dark winter, and he has no clear plan," Biden said. "And there's no prospect that there's going to be a vaccine available for the majority of the American people before the middle of next year."

Trump replied: "I don't think we're going to have a dark winter at all—we're opening up our country. We've learned and studied and understood the disease."

The president then suggested that "We are learning to live with" the coronavirus, to which Biden responded, "People are learning to die with it."

"Anyone who's responsible for that many deaths should not remain as president of the United States of America," Biden said. "I will end this. I will make sure we have a plan."

Although the president said that leaders of other countries had "congratulated" him on his response to the pandemic—without providing specifics—he later said, "I take full responsibility" for the impact of the virus.

But Trump also pushed the blame onto China, saying, "It's not my fault that it came here—it's China's fault."

New coronavirus cases in the U.S. have risen by 13.5 percent this week compared to last week, while the number of hospitalizations rose by 7.8 percent, data from the COVID Tracking Project Shows.

Currently, the worst-hit region is the Midwest, with North Dakota, South Dakota and Wisconsin ranking as the three states with the highest numbers of cases per capita in the nation, although Texas saw the largest increase in hospitalizations over this period—519.

On Tuesday, the North Dakota health department said the state could not keep up with its contact tracing workload, tweeting: "Please be advised: North Dakota Department of Health and local public health units are currently experiencing a backlog of COVID-19 case investigations, causing a delay in calls. If you have tested positive for COVID-19, please isolate and inform any close contacts you've had that they should get tested!"

The governors of both North and South Dakota have not introduced statewide lockdowns or mask mandates over the course of the pandemic, unlike many other states.

President Donald Trump
U.S. President Donald Trump debates Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden at Belmont University on October 22, 2020 in Nashville, Tennessee. Trump said "we're learning to live with" COVID-19. Jim Bourg-Pool/Getty Images