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. – Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar warned Sunday that the “window is closing” for the United States to control the coronavirus pandemic, while confirmed cases are on the rise in most of the country and some states are dealing with a record number of hospitalizations.
“Things are very different from two months ago … So it is a very different situation, but this is a very, very serious situation and the window is closing so we can take action and have this under control”, Azar said to CNN’s Jake Tapper on the “State of the Union” show.
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Azar suggested that the United States is better positioned to handle the pandemic than before, noting an increase in testing, contact tracing, hospital capacity, stocks of personal protective equipment, and progress toward therapeutics and potential vaccines for the virus.
The message from the top health official differs from President Donald Trump, who appears ready to come out of the pandemic, which is still spreading, and from Vice President Mike Pence.
At a press conference on Friday by the White House response group for coronavirus, the first in nearly two months, Pence said the United States had “flattened the curve,” painting an optimistic picture at odds with reality. .
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Thirty-six states report an increase in coronavirus cases, and only two report a decrease in cases compared to last week.
On Friday, the United States reported the highest number of new cases in a single day, with at least 40,173 infections. The maximum for a day had been given just Thursday.
Several states, including the states of Texas and Washington, and some localities have paused their reopening plans or have re-imposed some restrictions in hopes of halting the spread of the virus.
Azar denied that too fast a reopening was linked to the increase in cases, but instead said “inappropriate individual behavior” has allowed the virus to spread.
“That is not so much about what the law says about reopening as what our behaviors are within that,” he told Tapper.
The Secretary of Health and Human Services warned that if Americans “act irresponsibly, if we do not distance ourselves socially, if we do not use facial covers in places where we cannot social distance, if we do not practice proper personal hygiene, we are going to see the spread of the illness”.
When asked about the Trump administration’s request to the Supreme Court Thursday to invalidate the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act amid a pandemic, Azar said they will work with Congress on a replacement plan.
“We have made it very clear that the Supreme Court is taking down all or a large part of Obamacare, because it is constitutionally or legally weakened, we will work with Congress to create a program that genuinely protects people with pre-existing conditions,” said Azar, adding that Exact details will depend on the court’s decision and the composition of Congress.
Former director of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Dr. Tom Frieden, warned Sunday on Fox News that although the country is conducting more tests and our hospitals are better prepared, “this virus still has the advantage”.
When asked if the Trump administration’s claims of an increase in the number of cases was the result of further evidence, Frieden rejected it and said: “As a doctor, scientist and epidemiologist, I can tell you with 100% certainty that in the Most states where you are seeing an increase, it is a real increase.
“It’s not more evidence, it’s more spread of the virus,” Frieden said.
– CNN’s Christina Maxouris and Wes Bruer contributed to this report.