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(Image: AAP/Mick Tsikas)

Despite the optimism of the media and policymakers that Australia will escape the worst of the COVID-19 downturn, it's increasingly unclear how our economy will cope if the US continues to veer off the rails.

New infections in the US are now above the record levels of early April: a new national daily record of over 38,000 was set on Wednesday, but broken again yesterday. And what began as an accelerating trend in southern and "sunbelt" states is now expanding: the map of where US cases are growing rather than shrinking looks increasingly like the north-east alone has the pandemic under control.

In Texas, which reported a record 6000 new cases, governor Greg Abbott, a Republican and close to Trump, halted the re-opening in the state, while elective surgeries were banned in the four biggest cities to free up hospital beds.