A waitress serves patrons outside the Flights Restaurant in Burlingame, Calif., on Tuesday, the same day Los Angeles County reported its highest single-day counts of new cases and hospitalizations. Photo by Terry Schmitt/UPI | License Photo
July 15 (UPI) -- The United States has set a new single-day record for fresh COVID-19 cases as surges in several states continue to strain healthcare providers.
There were 67,417 new U.S. cases reported on Tuesday, according to an update Wednesday by researchers at Johns Hopkins University. For the past week, the national daily average has been about 62,000 new cases.
Since the pandemic began, 3.43 million cases and 136,500 deaths have been reported in the United States.
Experts say nearly half of the new cases were recorded in three states -- Florida, Texas and California.
Florida officials said Wednesday they recorded about 10,200 new cases on Tuesday, pushing the state's total past 300,000.
Health officials in Florida have called it the U.S. epicenter of the disease. The state reported a daily record in cases Sunday (15,300) and its highest one-day death toll on Tuesday (132).
Testing nationwide has also risen significantly. The COVID Track Project said the United States performed more than 760,000 tests on Tuesday -- the most to date for a single day.
Although President Donald Trump has attributed the rising cases to increases in testing, Dr. Anthony Fauci said the added tests are not behind dramatic case spikes. Fauci is the nation's top infectious diseases expert and a leading member of the White House Coronavirus Task Force.
"There is no doubt that there are more infections, because the percentage is increasing," he said Tuesday.
The new surges, he warned, will inevitably be followed by more hospitalizations and deaths.
In California, Los Angeles County reported its highest single-day counts of new cases and hospitalizations on Tuesday. Seventy-three patients died, pushing the state total to almost 3,900.
Officials said hospitalizations also increased countywide, almost 30 percent of whom were in intensive care units.
"Today's numbers ... are the result of many businesses and individuals not adhering to the basic public health requirements," said Los Angeles County Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer.
The state has revamped testing guidelines to focus on hospitalized patients, contact tracing and other investigative measures.
In Arizona, health officials announced an emergency testing program to focus on two areas that have seen a spike in cases. A "federal strike team" will operate two testing sites in the "high-need, underserved communities."
"This rapid surge in testing will have an immediate impact in containing COVID-19 and help us to increase testing in communities where it's needed most," said Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey.