The United States reported a record of more than 500,000 new cases over the past week, as states and cities resorted to stricter new measures to contain the virus that is raging across the country, especially the American heartland.
The record was broken Tuesday, even as the Trump administration announced what it called its first-term scientific accomplishments, in a press release that included “ENDING THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC” written in bold, capital letters.
The record reflects how quickly the virus is spreading. It took nearly three months for the first 500,000 coronavirus cases to be tallied in the United States — the first was confirmed on Jan. 21, and the country did not reach the half-million mark until April 11. Testing was severely limited in the early days of the pandemic.
The new restrictions range from a nightly business curfew in Newark, N.J., to a two-week stay-at-home order in El Paso, Texas, to a halt in indoor dining in Chicago.
Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker announced on Tuesday that he was stopping indoor dining and bar service in Chicago, effective at 12:01 a.m. Friday, Oct. 30.
The city joins New York and Wisconsin, states that earlier this month issued restrictions or outright bans on indoor dining in restaurants and bars to limit the spread of the coronavirus. The restrictions have been loudly opposed by a restaurant industry that has been decimated by the pandemic.
Chicago is now averaging more than twice as many coronavirus-related hospital admissions per day as it was a month ago, Mr. Pritzker’s office said, and the share of tests that are coming back positive has almost doubled since the beginning of October.
The U.S. has reported a record daily average of about 71,000 new cases over the past week, an increase of about 40 percent from the average two weeks earlier. Twenty states, including Illinois, have recorded their highest seven-day average of new cases, and three states (Tennessee, Wisconsin and Oklahoma) have set a record seven-day average for deaths. On Tuesday, Oklahoma and Wyoming broke single-day death records and Kentucky reported a new daily cases record.
Mr. Pritzker’s announcement follows a similar indoor dining ban that includes southern Cook County, just outside Chicago, which was announced Monday.
In Chicago, outdoor service will be allowed if tables are spaced six feet apart; reservations are required, and service shuts down at 11 p.m. All social gatherings in the city will be limited to 25 people or 25 percent of the venue’s capacity, whichever is less.
“We can’t ignore what is happening around us,” Mr. Pritzker said in a statement. “Because without action, this could look worse than anything we saw in the spring.”
Other communities around the country that have also recently tightened restrictions include:
El Paso County, Texas, imposed a two-week stay-at-home order and a 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. curfew that took effect Sunday. The number of people hospitalized in the El Paso metropolitan area with Covid-19 has more than tripled over the past three weeks. Officials are scrambling to make space for them by setting up overflow beds in a convention center and under tents in parking lots and by flying patients out to medical centers outside the area.
In Newark, N.J., all nonessential businesses began closing at 8 p.m. Tuesday. As of Sunday, the three-day average citywide positivity rate was 11.2 percent, more than double the statewide rate for the same period, the city said Monday.
Gov. Brad Little of Idaho ordered the state on Monday to return to Level 3 restrictions including limiting indoor gatherings to 50 people, requiring masks at long-term care facilities, and restricting bars and restaurants to serving only customers who are seated at tables. Idaho is averaging around 900 cases each day, up from about 260 in mid-September.
New mask mandates, the first in North Dakota, were imposed last week in the cities of Fargo and Minot. About 5 percent of all North Dakotans have now tested positive for the virus, the highest rate of any state.
In Milwaukee, new rules take effect Thursday that limit the size of gatherings and restrict restaurants and bars to 25 percent of their capacity unless they receive a waiver from the state health department. A field hospital at the Wisconsin state fairgrounds west of Milwaukee has started accepting patients.
The Blackfeet Indian Reservation, in Montana, extended its stay-at-home order on Friday to remain in effect through Nov. 8.
The Oglala Sioux Tribe has locked down its Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota until Oct. 30 in response to new coronavirus cases, according to the Rapid City Journal.
After an appeal from local hospitals, the mayors of two small Missouri cities, Nixa and Ozark, imposed their first mask mandates last week.
In Louisiana, a statewide mask mandate and other coronavirus restrictions were up in the air on Tuesday, after Republican legislators used an obscure clause in state law to suspend the public health emergency declared by the governor. Gov. John Bel Edwards, a Democrat, had a quick response: He sued.