The United States recorded its worst single-day new coronavirus caseload since April, according to data tallied by CNN, The New York Times and Johns Hopkins University.
The US reported between about 35,000 and 36,000 cases on Tuesday. According to data from the Times, this week saw the third worst single-day number of new infections since the onset of the pandemic.
While the country has drastically expanded its testing capacity since April, there are clear signs of spikes in states like Florida, Arizona, California and Texas. A rising rate of hospitalizations, in particular, is a worrying indicator.
Florida broke its record for daily new coronavirus cases on Wednesday, reporting more than 5,500 infections.
Governor Ron DeSantis said the state was seeing "really rapid transmission in that 18-to-34 age group."
California, the most populated state, saw the number of cases recorded daily go up from 4,230 on Sunday to a record 7,149 on Tuesday, while hospitalization rates are also rising, indicating expanded testing alone does not explain the sharp increase.
Protests raised the numbers
Governor Gavin Newsom did not discount the chance that the recent protests, coupled with economic reopenings, could be contributing to the numbers.
Meanwhile Disney said that the reopening of its theme parks and resort hotels in the south-western state will be delayed "until we receive approval from government officials."
Intensive care unit beds are almost full in Houston, a city in Texas, which reported its biggest single-day recorded caseload at more than 5,000 on Tuesday.
According to the Texas Medical Center, 97 per cent of Houston's ICU capacity is in use.
Quarantine in New York
New York and neighbouring states New Jersey and Connecticut are imposing a two-week quarantine on people coming from states with a high infection rate, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced.
The move marks a shift in the course of the country's outbreak. New York was once the epicentre, with Florida imposing a quarantine on visitors from the state in March. Now, New York has one of the lowest virus transmission rates, while case numbers are rising in more than 20 states, mostly in the south and west.
"It's only for the simple reason that we worked very hard to get the viral transmission go down and we don't want to see it go up because people go into the region and they can literally bring the infection with them," Cuomo told a press conference.
In testimony before Congress this week, Anthony Fauci, the country's top infectious disease expert, warned that there was a "disturbing surge of infections."
Markets and economy
US markets fell sharply on Wednesday on fears of rising cases.
The S&P 500 closed 2.6 per cent lower. The Dow Jones Industrial Average saw a slightly worse decline, while the tech-heavy Nasdaq, which has been outperforming recently, was down 2.2 per cent.
The White House has seemed more focused on reopening the economy than the coronavirus in recent weeks, and President Donald Trump has honed in on his re-election campaign and resumed rallies.
The coronavirus task force within the White House was due to meet later on Wednesday, with Vice President Mike Pence set to attend, but convening such high-level gatherings of the top experts and policy makers has become more rare.
The US has more known cases of the coronavirus than any other country, with more than 2.3 million people infected and over 121,700 dead.
Globally, cases topped 9 million earlier this week. The death toll stands at more than 478,000 worldwide, according to Johns Hopkins University.