Coronavirus infections continue to rise in the US as Florida shattered the national record for a state's largest single-day increase.
And the death rate is starting to rise as well, although it's still far below the levels it hit in April.
The nation's testing czar says wearing a mask in public is "absolutely essential." Adm. Brett Giroir told ABC's "This Week" on Sunday that "If we don't have that, we will not get control of the virus." But he does believe the situation will turn around.
The US, the hardest-hit country in the world with coronavirus, is facing unprecedented infection spikes.
Seventeen states are now recording a high number of cases. Fifteen states have record-high hospitalizations and seven states have reported a record number of deaths.
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Florida witnessed its highest one day total for any state ever with 15,300.
"We definitely had a sharp increase in the number of people going to the hospital, the number of people in ICU, the number of people on ventilators," said Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez (R).
The virus has claimed 134,572 lives in the United States as of Sunday with health experts warning the death rate likely to continue climbing.
"I think things are getting so bad or are so bad they may need to go back to a shelter in place order," advised Dr. Ashish Jha, faculty director of the Harvard Global Health Institute.
The news of the spike in COVID-19 cases comes as school district leaders across the country are considering plans for the upcoming school year and whether students will return to the classroom.
The CDC says full reopening carries the highest risk. Guidelines recommend keeping desks six feet apart, students wearing face coverings, and closing communal areas like playgrounds and dining areas.
The White House is pushing hard for schools to reopen.
"It's more a matter of their health and well-being that they be back in school," said Secretary of Education Betsy Devos. "We've seen this in other countries in Europe and elsewhere in the world where students have gone back to school and have done so very successfully. That should be the goal."
Still, some experts remain cautious and are speaking out on the administration's mandate that schools reopen, especially with infection rates continuing to spike.
"What's less clear is how efficiently kids will spread the virus in school, both to each other and to teachers, adults, and parents," said Dr. Tom Ingelsby, the director of the Center for Health Security of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.
Meanwhile in Arizona where cases are climbing rapidly, researches there have discovered a strain that appears to make the virus more infectious.
"There's a growing body of evidence to suggest that this mutation allows it to infect human cells much easier," noted Dr. David Engelthaler, an epidemiologist.
In addition, studies continue to show that COVID-19 not only makes existing heart problems worse but causes new ones with symptoms lingering long after recovery.