America Is Still Worried About Increase In Coronavirus Cases
America’s top infectious disease expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci, has said to lawmakers that the United States is facing a “disturbing surge” in the number of coronavirus infections in some states.
A panel of health officials, including Dr Anthony Fauci, said the next few days will be crucial to stem the new outbreaks. The four top experts also testified that they were never told by President Donald Trump to “slow down” testing. This information was shared after President Trump said that he had asked his team to do less testing to help maintain official case counts down at a rally in Oklahoma.
“To my knowledge, none of us have ever been told to slow down on testing,” Dr Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, testified in the presence of a congressional committee investigating the US response to the pandemic. In fact, we will be doing more testing,” he added.
The other three officials – representing the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Department of Health and Human Services – also disputed Mr Trump’s comment, saying they had never been instructed to slow testing.
The health department assistant secretary who oversees US diagnostic capacity, Brett Giroir, told lawmakers that he expects the US will be able to conduct 40 to 50 million tests per month by autumn.
The White House has said the president’s comment about slowing testing was “in jest”. However, the president appeared to contradict that, telling reporters, “I don’t kid.”
About 2.3 million Americans have been infected with coronavirus and at least 120,000 have died – more than any other nation in the world. But Trump on the other hand, told a campaign event in Phoenix, Arizona, that the coronavirus “plague” was “going away”. Again, the president referred to the virus as the “kung flu”, which the White House denies is a racist term. Arizona, where the president addressed a megachurch on Tuesday, surpassed its daily record for new infections only hours before he arrived. Officials there warn that with over 80% of hospital beds currently being used, the healthcare system may be overrun in the coming days or weeks.
Dr Fauci warned of “a disturbing surge of infection” and “increased community spread” in many southern and western states. A couple of days ago there were 30,000 new infections in a single day, he said. That’s very troubling to me. The next couple of weeks are going to be critical to address those surges that we’re seeing in Texas, Florida, Arizona, and other states.”
CDC Director Dr Robert Redfield called the testing “a critical underpinning of our response”, but said social distancing measures are highly effective at preventing the virus from spreading. Dr Redfield also called on all Americans to get a flu jab this year, saying the public must “embrace flu vaccinations with confidence. This single act will save lives,” he added.
Dr Fauci also said that he is “cautiously optimistic” a vaccine may be available for use by the end of 2020.