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“We have to act” – HHS secretary Azar warns of “closing window” to stop coronavirus peak

Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar wears a mask while attending a press conference on coronavirus tests in the White House Rose Garden on May 11, 2020 in Washington, DC.

Drew Angerer | Getty Images

Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar warned Sunday that time was running out for the United States to curb the spread of coronavirus as cases increase across the country, particularly in the South and West of America.

“We have the tools to do this,”

; Azar told NBC’s Meet The Press. “But the window is closing, we have to act and people as individuals have to act responsibly. We need social distance, we need to wear our face covers where we cannot social distance, especially in these hot areas.”

Azar’s warning comes when President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence say the country has “flattened the curve” and that new cases can be attributed to greater testing capacity. However, former CDC director Tom Frieden told Fox News Sunday that the rise is attributable to community broadcasting in states that have been reopened too quickly.

“As a doctor, scientist, epidemiologist, I can tell you 100% with certainty that in most states where you are seeing an increase, it is a real increase,” Frieden said. “They are no longer tests, the virus is more prevalent.”

The United States has seen several consecutive days of record highs in cases following a series of states that have rapidly lifted blocking restrictions to reopen their economies.

The United States reported 45,255 additional coronavirus cases on Friday, a record number of new daily cases that brought the total of over 2.5 million cases across the country. The states most affected are Texas, Arizona, Florida, California and Nevada.

As of Friday, the average of new seven-day cases in the United States has increased by more than 41% from a week ago.

The country is in a stronger position to fight the virus than it was during the outbreak, according to Azar, which indicated greater testing capacity, treatment, contact traceability, provision of personal protective equipment and capabilities. hospital.

Azar said the number of hospitalizations and deaths could increase in the coming weeks. COVID-19 deaths are generally lagging behind other data points such as hospitalizations and infections.

Azar, in an interview with CNN’s State of the Union, denied that the premature reopening of states was linked to the spikes in the cases and instead blamed the “inappropriate individual behavior” that spread the virus.

“It’s not so much about what the reopening law says but about what our behaviors are within it,” said Azar.

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