The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in the US climbed to an all-time high of more than 50,000 per day on Thursday, with the infection curve rising in 40 out of 50 states in a reversal that has largely spared only the Northeast.
In yet another alarming indicator, 36 states are seeing a rise in the percentage of tests that are coming back positive for the virus.
The surge has been blamed in part on Americans not wearing masks or following other social distancing rules as states lifted their lockdowns over the past few weeks.
The US recorded 50,700 new cases, according to a tally kept by Johns Hopkins University. That represents a doubling of the daily total over the past month and is higher even than what the country witnessed during the deadliest phase of the crisis in April and May.
All but 10 states are showing an increase in newly confirmed cases over the past 14 days, according to data compiled by the COVID Tracking Project, a volunteer organization that collects testing information. The outbreaks are most severe in Arizona, Texas and Florida, which together with California have re-closed or otherwise clamped back down on bars, restaurants and movie theaters.
Nebraska and South Dakota were the only states outside the Northeast with a downward trend in cases.
While some of the increases may be explained in part by expanded testing, other indicators are grim, too, including hospitalizations and positive test rates. Over the past two weeks, the percentage of positive tests in Georgia, Kansas and Tennessee has doubled. In Idaho and Nevada, it has tripled.
The surge in cases comes as Americans head into a Fourth of July holiday weekend that health officials warn could add fuel to the virus by drawing big crowds. Many municipalities have canceled fireworks displays. Beaches up and down California and Florida have been closed.
Florida reported more than 10,000 new confirmed coronavirus cases for the first time Thursday. That is six times higher than the daily count of less than a month ago. The state also reported 67 deaths for the second time in a week. Deaths per day are up about 30 percent from two weeks ago.
Several Northeastern states have seen new infections slow down significantly, including New York, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island and New Jersey, which allowed its Atlantic City casinos to reopen Thursday, though with no smoking, no drinking and no eating.
The US has reported at least 2.7 million cases and more than 128,000 dead, the highest toll in the world. Globally there have been 10.7 million confirmed cases and more than 516,000 dead, according to Johns Hopkins’ count. The true toll is believed to be significantly higher, in part because of limited testing and mild cases that have been missed.