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The US coronavirus outbreak has accelerated at a record pace ahead of the typically frenetic Fourth of July weekend.
The US set records for daily new coronavirus cases on Wednesday and Thursday, and case numbers are trending up in 40 states.
Experts fear that, as with Memorial Day weekend in May, people will gather, defy health guidelines, and facilitate the spread of the virus.
"The most patriotic thing they can do this year is to stay at home," said Dr. Peter Beilenson, the top health official in California's Sacramento County.
The coronavirus is surging in 40 out of 50 US states, and experts fear that celebrations for the Fourth of July holiday could make it even worse.
The Associated Press also reported on Thursday that 40 out of 50 states were trending up in terms of daily new cases.
Heath officials say the rise is caused by people refusing to wear masks and opting not to comply with social-distancing orders.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, the leading infectious-disease expert in the US, said the country would "be in some serious difficulty" if people didn't start following government advice, according to the AP.
Every year, the Fourth of July weekend sees millions of Americans head to beaches and parks to celebrate.
But because of the threat posed by the virus, some officials in major beach states including California and Florida have moved early to close public beaches. Many of them had reopened in June after weeks in lockdown.
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"Our numbers are going through the roof," Dr. Cameron Kaiser, the public-health officer in California's Riverside County, told The New York Times.
"We started seeing more and more cases after Memorial Day, and we can't afford another jump after the Fourth of July."
Dr. Peter Beilenson, the director of the Sacramento County Department of Health Services, also told The Times: "The most patriotic thing they can do this year is to stay at home."
Joshua Barocas, an infectious-disease expert at Boston Medical Center, earlier this week said the timing of the spike and the impending holiday "set up a perfect storm," according to The Guardian.
"The combination of travel, the combination of reopening — perhaps in some cases too early — and the combination of people not necessarily following some of these preventive guidelines."
In Washington, DC, President Donald Trump is stirring up excitement for a July Fourth fireworks display set to be held in the city.
The city's mayor, Muriel Bowser, said the event contravened government guidelines on mass gatherings.
"Ask yourself, do you need to be there?" Bowser said. "Do you know if you'll be able to social distance?"
As of Wednesday, the US, whose citizens make up 4% of the world's population, accounted for 25% of its known coronavirus cases, CNN reported.
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