Peter Wells in New York
Hospitalisations in the US topped 130,000 for the first time as several Sunbelt states experienced their highest levels of coronavirus patients since the pandemic began.
The number of people currently in US hospitals with coronavirus rose to 131,195 from 128,210 on Monday, according to Covid Tracking Project data.
California and Texas, which rank first and second by population, made the biggest contributions to that total as their own tallies hit records of 22,485 and 13,308, respectively.
Hospitalisations also hit records in Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, Georgia, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee.
Virginia, classified as a southern state by the Census Bureau but with weather perhaps not favourable enough to put it in the Sunbelt, was the only other US state where hospitalisations reached a new peak.
Masked travellers walk through National Airport in Arlington, Virginia
States reported a further 214,378 cases, up from 177,752 on Monday, according to the CTP.
Tuesday’s figure was slightly below the average over the past week of 215,632 a day, which is a record rate and means more than 1.5m people in the US have tested positive over the past seven days.
A further 3,478 deaths were attributed to coronavirus by states, up from 1,545 on Monday.
That is the second-biggest one-day increase in fatalities since the start of the pandemic, trailing the 3,903 reported on December 30, according to CTP data.
California, Texas, Missouri and Arizona each reported at least 250 deaths apiece on Tuesday, with the last two revealing records of 263 and 253, respectively.
The US has averaged 2,666 deaths a day over the past week, just shy of a record rate of 2,680 on December 22.