It also registered nearly 220,481 new cases.
The shocking national figures dwarf those in Australia, where 908 people in total have died from the virus. Victoria has accounted for 820 of those deaths, while NSW has registered 53, Western Australia has recorded nine, Queensland has recorded six and South Australia, four.
Australia has notched 27,993 cases in total, as of Thursday lunchtime, while 25,456 have recovered.
California, where some 33 million people were back under lockdown this week, saw more than 30,000 cases on Wednesday - the highest 24-hour tally in a US state, according to the Covid Tracking Project.
The number of virus patients hospitalised in the US continues to break records, hitting 106,000 on Wednesday.
Over the past two weeks the US has exceeded 2,000 COVID-related deaths per day several times, rivalling tolls the worst-hit nation in the world saw in the early days of the pandemic.
Faced with massive and uncontrolled spread of the virus, American authorities have put their hopes in halting its spread on a vaccine.
US experts meet Thursday to examine Pfizer-BioNTech's vaccine, which could be given emergency authorisation in the coming days.
Some 15 million people have contracted COVID-19 in the US since the start of the pandemic.
People in Australia must stay at least 1.5 metres away from others. Check your jurisdiction's restrictions on gathering limits.
If you are experiencing cold or flu symptoms, stay home and arrange a test by calling your doctor or contact the Coronavirus Health Information Hotline on 1800 020 080. News and information is available in 63 languages at sbs.com.au/coronavirus
Please check the relevant guidelines for your state or territory: NSW, Victoria, Queensland, Western Australia, South Australia, Northern Territory, ACT, Tasmania