The United States posted a daily high of 40,000 coronavirus infections on Thursday, figures from Johns Hopkins University (JHU) show.
A recent increase in infections and hospitalizations has led the states of Texas, Florida and Arizona to pause reopening plans.
The Texas governor ordered the closure of bars and announced other “specific measures” on Friday to reduce infections.
Florida announced that it was stopping alcohol consumption in its bars.
The previous JHU high of 36,400 was on April 24, when fewer tests were conducted.
The United States has 2.4 million confirmed infections and 122,370 deaths, more than any other country.
While part of the increase in daily reported cases is due to increased testing, the rate of positive testing in some areas is also increasing.
Health officials in the US estimate that the actual number of cases is likely to be 10 times greater than the reported number.
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) said that up to 20 million Americans may have been infected with coronavirus. The estimate was based on blood samples collected from around the country that were analyzed for the presence of antibodies against the virus.
The increase in cases was fueled by young people who tested positive, especially in the southern and western United States, said CDC chief Dr. Robert Redfield.
The Trump administration has emphasized that the situation is stabilizing in most of the country.
Which states are the most affected?
Texas, which has been at the forefront of measures to end the blockade measures, has seen thousands of new cases, prompting Republican Gov. Greg Abbott to temporarily suspend its reopening on Friday.
He announced that he was closing bars, stopping river rafting and ordering restaurants to return to 50% capacity to try to stop the outbreak.
“It is clear that the increase in cases is largely due to certain types of activities, including Texans who congregate in bars,” he said in a statement.
Texas confirmed a record 5,996 new cases Thursday, while 47 more deaths were also reported, the highest daily figure in a month.
In his first coronavirus briefing in more than two months, Vice President Mike Pence said the White House supported the steps taken by Texas and asked people in the affected states to follow official advice.
On Friday, Florida broke its own daily record for new infections, reporting 8,942 new cases. The previous record was 5,508, reported Wednesday. The state now has a total of 122,960 registered cases and 3,366 deaths.
State officials announced that alcohol use was suspended in bars across the state. However, it was unclear how the new measures would affect restaurants that serve alcohol, the Miami Herald reported.
Previously, the Florida governor said there were no plans to continue reopening step by step. “We are where we are. I didn’t say we were going to go to the next phase,” Ron DeSantis told reporters.
Arizona has become another epicenter of the crisis. Disease trackers say the state has “lost control of the epidemic,” reports the Washington Post. Governor Doug Ducey, who had been giving businesses a “green light” to reopen, now says Arizona residents are “safer at home.”
The light is “yellow,” Governor Ducey said Thursday. “I am asking Arizonans to proceed with caution, to slow down, to look both ways.”
Other states, such as Alabama, California, Idaho, Mississippi, Missouri, Nevada, Oklahoma, South Carolina, and Wyoming, have seen record daily increases in the number of confirmed cases this week.
New York, New Jersey and Connecticut have said they will ask people traveling from eight states (Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, Florida, North Carolina, South Carolina, Texas and Utah) to self-isolate for 14 days.
In California, which reported a record 7,149 new confirmed cases on Wednesday, Disney said it was delaying the reopening of its Disneyland Park and the Disney California Adventure Park originally established for July 17. The company said it first needed to receive approval from government officials.
Governor Gavin Newsom said the state had conducted more than a million tests in the past two weeks, with 5% positive results. Newsom has made wearing a face mask mandatory in public.
The University of Washington predicts 180,000 deaths in the US by October, or 146,000 if 95% of Americans wear masks.
The European Union is reportedly considering banning American citizens from entering the bloc as it considers how to reopen its external borders.
How has the United States responded to the pandemic?
The United States federal government system allows states the freedom to devise their own solutions and policies for urgent concerns, including a national health crisis.
Therefore, the governors have been responsible for the various degrees of blockade established to reduce the spread of Covid-19.
That mosaic response has also been marked by the dispute between the Trump administration and some governors.
In March, President Trump made it clear that he wanted to see the United States reopen its businesses “soon.”
Faced with rising unemployment and an economic crisis just a few months before the November elections, he tweeted at the time: “We cannot allow the cure to be worse than the problem itself.”
The president even went so far as to endorse street protests against stringent closure measures in several states.
Then, in April, President Trump revealed guidance to governors about reopening state economies.
The “Open America Again” guidelines outlined three phases for states to gradually ease their blockades.
Trump promised governors that they would handle the process themselves, with the help of the federal government.