(BBC) – Top disease researcher Dr Anthony Fauci has told the US Senate that he “would not be surprised” if new virus cases in the country reach 100,000 per day.
“Clearly we are not in control right now,” he testified, warning that not enough Americans are wearing masks or social distancing.
During the hearing, he said about half of all new cases come from four states.
Earlier, the New York governor said nearly half of all Americans must self-quarantine if they visit the state.
On Tuesday, cases rose by more than 40,000 in one day for the fourth time in the past five days.
The surge – which is occurring particularly strongly in southern and western states – has forced at least 16 states to pause or reverse their reopening plans, according to CNN. Florida, Arizona, Texas and California are the four states referenced by Dr Fauci as being most heavily hit currently.
For some the new measures come over a month after they first began to reopen their economies.
Also on Tuesday, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo expanded the number of Americans who are required to self-quarantine for 14 days if they visit the state. There are now 16 states on the list.
The newly added states are California, Georgia, Iowa, Idaho, Louisiana, Mississippi, Nevada and Tennessee.
They join Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, Florida, North Carolina, South Carolina, Texas and Utah.
All together, the order affects 48% all US residents, according to a USA Today analysis.
What did Dr Fauci say?
Testifying to a Senate committee on the effort to reopen schools and businesses, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases criticised states for “skipping over” benchmarks required for reopening, and said cases will rise as a result.
“I can’t make an accurate prediction, but it is going to be very disturbing, I will guarantee you that,” he told Senator Elizabeth Warren.
“Because when you have an outbreak in one part of the country even though in other parts of the country they’re doing well, they are vulnerable.”
“We can’t just focus on those areas that are having the surge. It puts the entire country at risk,” he added.
Dr Fauci also called on the US government to produce face masks to be distributed for free to all Americans, and condemned the “all or none phenomenon” of some people who have completely disregarded social distancing measures.
Robert Redfield, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) – who was also testifying on Tuesday – told lawmakers that 12 states have seen hospital admission numbers rising, and Arizona has recorded an increasing death rate.