(HHS video)

Fauci: ‘Serious’ COVID-19 Surges Could Make Areas Doing Well ‘Vulnerable to the Spread’

The country is “facing a serious problem in certain areas” with spikes in coronavirus infections, Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said today at the White House Coronavirus Task Force’s first public briefing since April 27.

Back then, the United States had seen 978,680 coronavirus cases and 55,266 deaths. Today, according to data from Johns Hopkins, there had been 2,462,472 cases across the country and 124,978 deaths.

On Thursday, health departments across the nation reported 39,327 new COVID-19 cases — a new single-day record. Twenty-three states reported a rise in cases this week, with Florida, Texas, South Carolina, Arizona and California reporting troubling surges.

“What goes on in one area of the country ultimately could have an effect on the other areas of the country,” Fauci said. “So let’s take a look at this problem that we are facing now, this resurgence in cases. I don’t think there’s time enough all day to try and analyze and figure out the multifaceted elements that went into that. You know, everything from maybe opening a little bit too early on some, to opening at the right time but not actually following the steps in an orderly fashion, to actually trying to follow the steps in an orderly fashion but the citizenry did not feel that they wanted to do that for a number of reasons, likely because everyone feels the common feeling of being pent up for such a long period of time.”

Fauci stressed that “when you have an outbreak of an infectious disease, it’s a dynamic process that is global.”

“So remember, what happened in China affected us. What happened in Europe affected us. What’s happening here is affecting others. We can’t get away from that. It’s interconnected,” he continued. “…We have such an unusual situation because of all of the decades that I’ve been involved in chasing infectious diseases I’ve never seen anything that is so protean and its ability to make people sick or not. There’s no other infectious disease that goes from 40 percent of the people having no symptoms to some having mild symptoms to some having severe, some requiring staying at home for weeks, some going to the hospital, some getting intensive care, some getting intubated, some getting ventilated, and some dying.”

“…The overwhelming majority now of people getting infected are young people, likely the people that you see in the clips and in the paper who are out in crowds enjoying themselves, understandably. No blame there, understandably, but the thing that you really need to realize that when you do that, you are part of a process. So if you get infected, you will infect someone else who clearly will infect someone else. We know that happens because the reproduction element of the virus is not less than one. So people are infecting other people. And then ultimately, you will infect someone who’s vulnerable. Now, that may be somebody’s grandmother, grandfather, uncle who’s on chemotherapy and who’s on radiation or chemotherapy or a child who has leukemia.”

Fauci added that “you have an individual responsibility to yourself but you have a societal responsibility” if the country wants to end this outbreak.

He warned that “if we don’t extinguish the outbreak sooner or later even ones that are doing well are going to be vulnerable to the spread.”

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Robert Redfield called social distancing, hand washing and wearing face masks “very powerful weapons” to slow the spread of COVID-19.

“I also want to appeal to the Millennials and those that are under 40. It’s really important that this group really commit themselves to these practices to protect those at risk,” he said. “And it’s not just the elderly that at risk. Many of us may have friends and colleagues that are younger that may not advertise their underlying co-morbidities as the case would be with, say, Type 1 Diabetes or an underlying immune deficiency.”

The states with the biggest increases in people testing positive are Texas, Arizona, Florida, Mississippi, South Carolina, Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, Nevada, and Utah. Coronavirus Response Coordinator Dr. Deborah Birx said the metro areas now showing most “concern” in positivity rates are Austin, Phoenix, Houston, Dallas, San Antonio, Tampa, Orlando, Miami, Riverside, Calif., and Atlanta.

“We hope over the next week to be able to really have this data available in real time on the White House website so that everybody across the country can see where the cases are,” Birx said.

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Bridget Johnson is the Managing Editor for Homeland Security Today. A veteran journalist whose news articles and analyses have run in dozens of news outlets across the globe, Bridget first came to Washington to be online editor and a foreign policy writer at The Hill. Previously she was an editorial board member at the Rocky Mountain News and syndicated nation/world news columnist at the Los Angeles Daily News. Bridget is a senior fellow specializing in terrorism analysis at the Haym Salomon Center. She is a Senior Risk Analyst for Gate 15, a private investigator and a security consultant. She is an NPR on-air contributor and has contributed to USA Today, The Wall Street Journal, New York Observer, National Review Online, Politico, New York Daily News, The Jerusalem Post, The Hill, Washington Times, RealClearWorld and more, and has myriad television and radio credits including Al-Jazeera, BBC and SiriusXM.

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