Dr. Anthony Fauci, the government's top infectious diseases expert, warned in Senate testimony on Tuesday that coronavirus cases could balloon to 100,000 a day across the country if current outbreaks are not contained.
"I think it's important to tell you and the American public that I'm very concerned because it could get very bad," Fauci said.
The comments by the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases came as the United States reported a single-day record of more than 48,000 cases on Tuesday, including eight states announcing their highest single-day totals since the pandemic began.
There have been 28 states that have seen an increase in cases in the last 14 days.
"We are now having 40-plus thousand new cases a day," Fauci said. "I would not be surprised if we go up to 100,000 a day if this does not turn around, and so I am very concerned."
Multiple counties in Florida, including Miami-Dade, as well as beaches in Los Angeles, will be closed this weekend for the July 4 holiday as Florida and California try to slow the spike in coronavirus cases.
"Clearly we are not in total control right now," Fauci said.
"Bars: really not good, really not good," Fauci said. "Congregation at a bar, inside, is bad news. We really have got to stop that."
Vice President Mike Pence wore a face mask during a public briefing on Tuesday in which he urged all Americans to wear masks.
"We know how to slow the spread," he said. "Wear a mask whenever your state and local authorities say it's appropriate."
States like New York and New Jersey that have seen decreases after leading the country in cases and deaths early in the pandemic have continued to take precautions. New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy has delayed the opening of indoor dining at restaurants, while Massachusetts and New York are requiring visitors from most states to quarantine for 14 days or asking them to stay away.
Families of health care workers are also pleading with people to take the illness seriously as close to 500 health care personnel have died since the pandemic began.
Patty Dawson's daughter Molly Dawson, 25, is an ICU nurse from Kentucky who has been airlifted to a hospital in Nashville, Tennessee, where her mother says she may be on a ventilator for up to six weeks after being diagnosed with COVID-19.
"It's terrifying," she told Kerry Sanders on TODAY Wednesday. "I don't want anybody else to have to experience what we are and I know it's going to happen."