Data on COVID-19 does not support another lockdown, Health Secretary Alex Azar said Thursday.
“I’ve got a lot of respect for Dr. Osterholm, but I do think we should we driven by science and data and the facts here. And they simply do not support the notion of locking down the country, sheltering in place,” Azar said on Fox News’ “The Story.”
“It’s important the American people know the facts. And the simple facts are that our colleges are not mechanisms for major spread of the disease. Our kids in K through 12 are not mechanisms of major spread—we’re not seeing those as settings of major spread of disease. Our normal workplaces are not settings for major spread of disease. Air travel is not a setting for that. Healthcare work, our healthcare settings—going to the doctor—has not been a major vector of disease.”
Most of the United States was shut down by state mandates, recommended by the White House and health officials, in the spring. Some states have maintained harsh restrictions since then; some this month have ordered or advised rules like mask wearing and avoiding crowds larger than 20 people.
The number of cases has been rising in many states in recent weeks and some experts believe the number will keep rising as people spend more time indoors due to the changing seasons.
“What we’re seeing as the cause of this right now, here and in Europe, is, it’s indoor gatherings as we’ve gotten cold weather. We go in our houses with friends and neighbors and we’re not protecting ourselves by watching our distance and wearing our face coverings. We’re getting into other indoor settings where we’re not doing these things. That’s what driving this,” Azar said.
Officials in some areas have been advising against holding large Thanksgiving celebrations, or ordering people not to hold them.
Azar declined to weigh in directly but pointed people to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website.
That “gives you advice about that risk continuum,” he said. “And the more people you have over, the more you’re at risk. You’ve got to be extra careful then about distance and face coverings.”
Tips to decrease the chances of the virus spreading include opening windows to increase ventilation, making ceiling fans direct the air upwards, and using single serving utensils and plates.
Azar said during an appearance on CNN that he was trying to get the message out, especially on face coverings, pointing to a recent study that he said showed wearing a mask not only protects others, but the mask wearer.
“My message to you is: wear your face covering. And if somebody around you isn’t wearing their face covering, let them know that they’re putting you at risk,” he said.