The U.S. reported more than 55,000 new coronavirus cases on Thursday, in a sign that the outbreak is not letting up as the Fourth of July weekend kicks off.
Thursday’s tally of 55,274 new cases was both more than the country has reported on any single day so far and more than any other country has reported over 24 hours, according to Reuters figures. The previous record was held by Brazil, which reported 54,771 cases on June 19.
Thursday’s high caseload is not an isolated incident. The U.S. has reported more than 40,000 new cases each day for seven days in a row and has broken records for new cases three days running, according to Reuters data. Thursday was also the second consecutive day that the daily tally topped 50,000, The Financial Times reported.
“What we’ve seen is a very disturbing week,” National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Director Dr. Anthony Fauci said in a livestream with the American Medical Association, The Associated Press reported Wednesday.
It also doesn’t look like the surge in cases is down to increased testing, as some Trump administration officials have suggested in recent weeks.
“There is no question that the more testing you get the more you will uncover, but we do believe this is a real increase in cases because the percent positivities are going up,” Assistant Secretary of Health Admiral Brett Giroir told Congress Thursday, as The New York Times reported. “So this is real increases in cases.”
In fact, Thursday’s total represents a more than 85 percent increase in new cases compared to two weeks ago, when states began to reopen following an extended lockdown. Cases have risen in 40 out of 50 states in the past 14 days, according to COVID Tracking Project data reported by The Associated Press, and the number of tests coming back positive has risen in 36 states.
Eight states set individual records for their highest case tally Thursday, The New York Times reported. They were Alaska, Arkansas, California, Georgia, Montana, South Carolina, Tennessee and Florida, which reported more than 10,000 cases for the first time.
The rise in cases has led states and counties to impose new restrictions.
Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez announced a 10 p.m. curfew starting Friday and continuing indefinitely, The Washington Post reported.
“Too many people were crowding into restaurants late at night, turning these establishments into breeding grounds for this deadly virus,” Gimenez said, as CBS News reported.
California Gov. Gavin Newsom said he was closing bars, indoor restaurants and movie theaters in most of the state.
“The bottom line is the spread of this virus continues at a rate that is particularly concerning,” Newsom said.
And Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said Thursday that anyone in a county with 20 or more cases would have to wear a mask in public, The Washington Post reported. This is a reversal for Abbott, who had previously prohibited local governments from mandating similar policies, The Associated Press pointed out.
“We are now at a point where the virus is spreading so fast, there is little margin for error,” Abbott said, as The Associated Press reported. “I know that wearing a face covering is not the convenient thing to do, but I also know that wearing a face covering will help us to keep Texas open for business. And it will help Texans earn the paycheck they need.”
Public health experts are worried the surge could get even worse following the Fourth of July weekend.”It’s set up a perfect storm: the combination of travel, the combination of reopening — perhaps in some cases, too early — and the combination of people not necessarily following some of these preventive guidelines,” Boston Medical Center infectious disease physician Dr. Joshua Barocas said during an Infectious Diseases Society of America briefing reported by CNN.