HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH) — Gasoline prices are likely to head even higher, further fueling inflation and hitting consumers and businesses that are still coming to grips with the COVID-19 pandemic.

The national average topped $4.17 a gallon on Tuesday, according to auto club AAA, and several states on each coast could soon join California in the $5-and-up club. In Connecticut Tuesday, the average was $4.35 — up 7 cents since Monday. 

Prices at the pump have been rising for more than a year, and analysts expect further increases after President Joe Biden announced that the United States will ban imports of Russian oil to punish Russia more severely for invading Ukraine.

The White House said the ban on new purchases was effective immediately, but the administration was allowing a 45-day “wind down” for continued delivery under existing contracts.

Connecticut’s allotment of gasoline is stored in New Haven Harbor. The trucks coming in daily know how much they’re getting and where they are headed. 

“By the time they pick it up, the price may have gone up since they dispatched the truck, a second time when driving to the point of sale,” Chris Herb with Connecticut Energy Marketers Association said. “We are experiencing this right on the frontline with our customers.”

Herb’s organization distributes gasoline to about 1,000 independently-owned gas stations throughout Connecticut. He said removing Russia’s imports from the picture leaves an energy gap that needs to be filled.

“It’s fortunate we are the largest producer, but we are also the largest consumer, so that’s why we are saying we must revisit federal energy policy.

As long as demand remains higher than supply, gas prices won’t be changing course anytime soon.

“It’s hard to believe where prices stand today, north of $4.50, that we are not going to blow past that $5,” Herb said.

According to government figures, the U.S. imported 245 million barrels of oil from Russia last year or 8% of all U.S. oil imports. That is less than the United States imported from Canada or Mexico but more than it took from Saudi Arabia.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.