Matthew Rocco in New York
Ohio Governor Mike DeWine warned that the state could impose tougher measures to slow the spread of the coronavirus as new infections and hospital admissions remain trending in the Midwest.
In a speech on Wednesday evening, Mr DeWine urged residents to stay home as much as possible and not have parties. Current data trends could lead officials to close restaurants, bars and gyms.
"We'll look at this one week starting tomorrow," said DeWine.
The governor plans to tighten the rules for wearing masks by creating a compliance unit that oversees enforcement in retail stores. A separate measure requires face covering for diners in restaurants when they are not eating.
Describing the current outbreak as the third spike, Mr DeWine warned of the strain on hospital resources. "This surge is much more intense, widespread and more dangerous," he said.
There were 5,874 new cases in Ohio, the second highest number in the state. For the past week, Ohio has seen an average of 5,307 new cases per day.
Ohio also reported 76 more deaths attributed to the virus, bringing its total since the pandemic started to 5,623.
Midwestern states – which were largely spared at the start of the pandemic – and other US regions saw a surge in new coronavirus cases in the fall.
While some of the increase is due to expanded testing capacity, hospital admissions and the rate of re-positive tests have also increased.
Illinois added 12,657 new cases to its total, beating its previous record Tuesday, while hospital admissions surged above 5,000 for the first time since April. The state reported the highest single-day death toll at 153 deaths, a total of 10,798.
"In our current situation, where the virus is becoming increasingly prevalent, it is inadvisable and potentially dangerous to attend even small gatherings where households are mixed or to travel to areas with high positive rates," said the Illinois Health Department Daily Report.
In Wisconsin, where Governor Tony Evers signed an order Tuesday urging residents to stay home whenever possible, the number of new infections rose to over 7,000 for the third time in five days. The state has 2,457 confirmed deaths from the coronavirus, up from 62 from a day earlier.