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WASHINGTON: A top US health expert warned Congress on Tuesday that new coronavirus cases could more than double to 100,000 per day if authorities and the public fail to take steps to suppress the pandemic.

Infectious disease expert Anthony Fauci, a leading member of President Donald Trump's coronavirus task force, said the United States was headed in the "wrong direction" on the pandemic and demanded that Americans wear masks and avoid crowds after lax behavior propelled new outbreaks.

"I'm very concerned and I'm not satisfied with what's going on, because we're going in the wrong direction," he testified to a Senate panel.

Alarming spikes in new cases in southern hotspots Texas and Florida are driving the daily national total of new cases to over 40,000 per day, and they need to be tamped down quickly to avoid dangerous surges elsewhere in the country, Fauci stressed.

"Clearly we are not in total control right now," he said adding: "I would not be surprised if it goes up to 100,000 a day if this does not turn around."

The dire messaging reinforced concerns about the US ability to rein in a pandemic that has claimed some 126,000 American lives.

Fauci said he believed some states are "skipping over some of the checkpoints" that assure safe reopenings of business and public spaces.