US health secretary Alex Azar has warned that “the window is closing” on the country’s ability to act to effectively curb coronavirus, as the number of confirmed cases has exceeded 2.5 million.
The secretary for health and human services stressed a recent spike in infections, particularly in the south, and said that people must “act responsibly” by distancing themselves from society and wearing face masks especially “in these hot areas”
For a third consecutive day on Saturday, the number of confirmed cases in the United States has increased by over 40,000. In Arizona, cases have risen by 267% so far in June and rose by a record 3,857 cases on Sunday, the eighth record hike this month. Overall, deaths in the United States for Covid-19 exceeded 125,000 with over 2.5 million confirmed cases, according to the compilation of Johns Hopkins University, far more than any other country in the world.
The new wave in Covid-19 cases has been more pronounced in a handful of southern and western states that have been reopened earlier and more aggressively, with support from the Trump administration, despite warnings from health officials wait to see a steady decline in cases. Texas and Florida were among the states that reversed course over part of their reopening plans last week as cases continue to rise.
Appearing on NBC’s Meet the Press program on Sunday morning, Azar was asked by presenter Chuck Todd why the United States was not facing the Covid-19 crisis, especially when many other countries seem to be successful.
Azar acknowledged that the United States “sees rears in cases” and that most of them are among people under the age of 35, which means that “a large number of those” will be asymptomatic, presenting a different challenge for authorities trying to get a grip on the outbreaks.
“This is a very serious situation,” said Azar, adding that “the window is closing” to stop the virus from spreading. “We must act and people as individuals must act responsibly. We need social distance, we need to wear our face coatings. “
Azar claimed that the United States is better placed than two months ago in the fight against the virus because it is conducting more tests and has therapies available to treat Covid-19. But he acknowledged that hospitalizations and deaths could increase in the coming weeks because he is a late indicator.
The Trump administration has long been criticized for its response to the coronavirus crisis and the president has often been at odds with public health officials about the best course of action to curb the spread.
The state of New York, which was the center of the American epidemic between April and May, and implemented strict home stay measures, reported its lowest deaths from Covid-19 on Sunday.
Five people died of coronavirus in the state on Saturday, a budget from Governor Andrew Cuomo called “the lowest number we’ve had since it started.” During the pandemic peak in April, nearly 800 people died of coronavirus every day.
“We are on the other side,” from states like Texas, Florida and Arizona, Cuomo said in an interview with NBC’s Meet the Press. The governor warned, however, that the numbers could rise again if New Yorkers lowered their guard and did not follow the social and mask removal requirements.
“Now I am afraid of spreading from other states because we are a country and people travel,” said Cuomo. “I fear that the rate of infection in other states will return to New York and increase that rate again.”
On Sunday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said it was “long overdue” that masks were required across the country, but that Donald Trump’s opposition had played a role in blocking such a step.
“And my understanding, that the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommended the use of masks, but not to request it – he requested it, because they don’t want to offend the president,” he said on ABC this week.
“And the president should be an example. You know, real men wear masks. Be an example for the country and wear the mask … it’s not about protecting you. It’s about protecting others and their families. “
Azar said Trump should not follow the lead of his administration because, as president, he is regularly tested and is in “very different circumstances than the rest of us.”
Washington Democratic Governor Jay Inslee told CBS that Trump should spend more time tweeting to wear masks instead of defending monuments to Confederate generals. “We need a president who cares more about living Americans and less about dead confederates,” he said.