Americans have packed beaches and lakes for Memorial Day weekend, often flouting restrictions imposed to tackle the coronavirus outbreak.
In Florida, state police dispersed an unauthorized gathering of hundreds of people in Daytona Beach on May 23.
In Missouri, bars at the Lake of the Ozarks were packed with revelers, who violated social-distancing rules.
Coronavirus task force chief Dr. Deborah Birx said she was “very concerned” after seeing such scenes.
Dr. Birx said on ABC’s This Week on May 24: “We really want to be clear all the time that social distancing is absolutely critical. And if you can’t social distance and you’re outside, you must wear a mask.”
St Louis Mayor Lyda Krewson said: “It’s irresponsible and dangerous to engage in such high risk behavior just to have some fun over the extended holiday weekend.
“Now, these folks will be going home to S. Louis and counties across Missouri and the Midwest, raising concerns about the potential of more positive cases, hospitalizations, and tragically, deaths. Deeply disturbing.”
In Tampa area, Florida, the crowds were so big that authorities closed parking lots because they were full, the Associated Press reports.
In California, big crowds were seen enjoying beaches over the weekend. State officials said most people were covering their faces and keeping their distance on beaches and parks.
Memorial Day marks the unofficial start of summer.
The US has more coronavirus cases than anywhere in the world. It has over 1.6 million known infection and is nearing 100,000 deaths linked to the virus.
All 50 US states have now partially reopened after a two-month shutdown. However, remaining restrictions vary across the country.
Wide discrepancies also remain between states in terms of infection rates and the pace of their economic restart.
Some of the hardest-hit states, including New Jersey, New York and Washington are now showing the sharpest declines, while majority of states have reached plateaus.