The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says the U.S. set another daily record for new COVID-19 cases on Wednesday with nearly 490,000.
The CDC's COVID Data Tracker reports that the U.S. recorded 486,428 cases of COVID-19 on Wednesday, besting the previous daily record set on Monday.
The CDC says the U.S. has recorded at least 400,000 new cases of COVID-19 every day since Monday.
For the last seven days, the U.S. has averaged more than 316,000 new cases a day, the highest recorded level since the start of the pandemic.
The actual number of people who contracted COVID-19 in the U.S. is likely higher because not everyone who contracts the virus will seek out a test or report an at-home positive test.
The surge in cases comes as the highly contagious omicron variant of COVID-19 spreads rapidly throughout the country. Earlier this week, health officials said that while the newly-discovered strain is highly infectious, all signs point to it causing less severe disease than past strains.
The increase in new cases has not yet led to a rise in deaths, which slightly decreased in the past week. The CDC adds that there was only a slight increase in new hospitalizations from COVID-19 in the past week.
Surges in hospitalizations and deaths typically lag behind surges in new cases. While White House medical adviser Dr. Anthony Fauci expects both to rise in the weeks ahead, the nature of omicron may cause a less severe spike.
"That pattern in the disparity between cases and hospitalizations strongly suggests that there will be a lower hospitalization-to-case ratio when the situation becomes more clear," Fauci said Wednesday.
Fauci also warned that Americans must stay vigilant, as the highly transmissible nature of omicron could cause health care systems in some areas to be overwhelmed, particularly in areas where vaccination rates are low.