Alex Azar: “The window closes” for the United States to control the coronavirus

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“Things are very different from two months ago … So it is a very different situation, but it is a very very serious situation and the window closes so that we can act and control it,” said Azar to Jake of CNN. Tap on “State of the Union”.

He suggested that the United States is in a better position to manage the pandemic than before, highlighting the increase in tests, contact tracing, hospital capacity, PPE supplies and advances in therapy. and potential vaccines against the virus.

The message from the senior health official differs from that of President Donald Trump, who seems ready to emerge from the still raging pandemic, and Vice President Mike Pence.

In a press briefing Friday by the White House Coronavirus task force, the first in nearly two months, Pence said the United States had “flattened the curve,” painting a contradictory pink picture. with reality.

Thirty-six states report an increase in positive coronavirus cases and only two report a decrease in cases compared to last week.

The United States reported the highest number of new cases on a single day on Friday, with at least 40,173 new infections. The previous daily record was reported on Thursday.

Several states, including Texas and Washington, and communities have suspended plans to reopen or re-imposed restrictions in hopes of stopping the spread of the virus.

Azar denied that the too rapid reopening was linked to the increase in the number of cases, but rather to “inappropriate individual behavior” that allowed the virus to spread.

“It is not so much what the reopening law says as it is our behavior,” he told Tapper.

He warned that if Americans “act irresponsibly, if we don’t distance ourselves socially, if we don’t use face covers in places where we can’t distance ourselves socially, if we don’t practice hygiene appropriate personal, let’s see the spread of the disease. ”

Asked Thursday of the Trump administration’s request to the Supreme Court to strike down the Affordable Pandemic Care Act, Azar said they would work with Congress on a replacement plan.

“We have made it very clear that the Supreme Court cancels all or a large part of Obamacare, as it is constitutionally or legally disabled, we will work with Congress to create a program that genuinely protects people with pre-existing conditions” said Azar. , adding that the exact details will depend on the court decision and the composition of Congress.

Former director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Dr. Tom Frieden, warned on Fox News on Sunday that as the U.S. conducts more tests and our hospitals are better prepared, “this virus always has the upper hand. ”

When asked if the Trump administration’s claims about the increased caseload were the result of more tests, Frieden dismissed him, saying, “As a doctor, scientist, epidemiologist, I can tell you with 100% certainty that in most states where you see an increase, it’s a real increase.

“These are not more tests, it is more spread of the virus,” said Frieden.

CNN’s Christina Maxouris and Wes Bruer contributed to this report.

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