CDC fears Americans may not heed advice as cases in the US continue to increase

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Dr. Robert Redfield, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, speaks during the daily briefing of the White House Coronavirus Task Force at the White House April 17, 2020 in Washington, DC.

Alex Wong | Getty Images

CDC director Robert Redfield said Thursday he is “very concerned” that the agency’s public health message on coronavirus is not “resonating” with the public as the number of cases continues to increase in the United States.

Testifying before the House Appropriations Committee, Redfield said he saw “many people” not wearing masks in Washington, D.C., where he works, while many people wear masks in his hometown of Baltimore. Crowds of people have been seen in recent weeks during protests during the Memorial Day vacation and, Redfield noted, when SpaceX launched on Saturday.

Huge crowds gathered on Florida’s space coast on Wednesday to watch SpaceX’s first attempt to launch astronauts into space.

“We will continue to send a message as well as possible,” he said. “We will encourage those who have the ability to demand to wear masks when in their environment to continue to do so. “

The coronavirus, which appeared about five months ago, has sickened more than 1.8 million people and killed at least 107,175 in the United States, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. While cases have slowed in hotspots such as New York State, the United States continues to see approximately 20,000 new Covid-19 cases per day.

Redfield is a member of President Donald Trump’s coronavirus task force.

During the hearing, House Democrats burned Redfield over Trump’s pressure to have states reopen after shutting down as part of social distancing measures to curb the spread of the virus.

When asked by representative Rosa DeLauro, D-Conn., If there was evidence that the virus was less contagious, Redfield simply replied, “No.”

The hearing comes as the CDC’s response to the pandemic is being examined by former officials and experts in infectious diseases. A New York Times report released Wednesday detailed some of the CDC’s first missteps, including the delay in coronavirus test kits. The CDC has rejected requests from the New York Times to interview senior CDC officials, the Times said.

The CDC has remained largely silent on the pandemic. Agency officials have not organized a briefing on coronaviruses for more than two months. Last month, the agency quietly released detailed advice for reopening schools, public transportation, and non-essential businesses that had been shut down to curb the spread of the coronavirus in the United States.

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