The window is closing on ways to halt the rise in new COVID-19 cases that threaten to send some parts of the US into a second lockdown. That was the opinion of Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar, who spoke the comments Sunday on NBC’s Meet The Press.
As cases surge nationwide, reopened businesses are again shuttering in Florida and Texas. Other states, including California, are reimposing strict stay-at-home orders and pushing back plans to open certain businesses that were scheduled to be among the last to reopen.
Yet reopened businesses can’t be entirely blamed, Azar said. “We’ve got many communities in states that are just as reopened as these southern states, but aren’t experiencing this.”
Stopping the spread has to happen soon, he added.
“So we’ve got the tools to do this … but the window is closing,” said Azar. “We have to act, and people as individuals have to act responsibly. We need to social-distance. We need to wear our face-coverings if we’re in settings where we can’t social-distance, particularly in these hot zones.”
Azar warned that many locations where the coronavirus is rising are seeing the majority of new cases among people under age 35, with many asymptomatic.
“We’ve got our fatality rates and our hospitalization rates are the lowest they’ve been in two months, but this is a very serious situation,” he said.
Why the virus is surging is being studied with state authorities to determine why COVID-19 cases are rising.
“We’ve got to get to the bottom of why we’re seeing these cases surge in this area, but at its core, we all own as individuals, our individual behavior to make sure that we are practicing appropriate social distancing and wearing facial covering when we’re not able to, and practicing good personal hygiene and especially protecting our most vulnerable citizens.”