What happened

Amusement park stocks fell on Wednesday, as COVID-19 case counts surged across the U.S. and around the world.

As of 2:20 p.m. EDT, shares of Cedar Fair (NYSE:FUN), SeaWorld (NYSE:SEAS), Six Flags (NYSE:SIX), and Disney (NYSE:DIS) were down 9%, 9%, 8%, and 5%, respectively. 

So what 

Leading infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci warned Congress on Tuesday that areas of the U.S. are experiencing a "disturbing surge" of novel coronavirus infection, including an alarming increase in COVID-19 complications among young people. With infection counts increasing rapidly in many states, some government officials are once again instructing people to stay home unless it's absolutely necessary to go elsewhere. 

An amusement park at night

Surging coronavirus infections could keep amusement parks relatively empty. Image source: Getty Images.

In addition to the many people who will likely choose to forego making trips to amusement parks this summer, park employees are paying attention to the rising COVID-19 case counts. Thousands of Disney World workers have signed a petition urging Disney to push back its planned reopening of the park in July. 

Now what 

Amusement park companies have taken great pains to increase safety measures at their parks, including new cleaning regimens and attendance caps to better allow for proper social distancing measures. However, the core of their business still relies on herding crowds of people into their parks. And until an effective treatment or vaccine for COVID-19 is found, many people will decide that making a trip to an amusement park is simply not worth the risk.

Unfortunately, that means the parks and resorts businesses of Six Flags, SeaWorld, Cedar Fair, and Disney remain at risk -- and investors should brace for the potential for more declines in the days and weeks ahead.