HHS Secretary Doesn’t Predict New Virus Shutdowns Despite Increase in Cases

June 25, 2020 Updated: June 25, 2020

Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Alex Azar stated Thursday he does not foresee governors having to implement more business lockdowns and travel restrictions after an increase in COVID-19 cases in certain states.

“You will see local community mitigation steps depending on circumstances. As I said, the hotspots are in 3 percent of American counties. About 110 counties right now are the ones that we are focused on. We can get back to work, back to school, back to worship, and more importantly, back to health care, if we act responsibly as individuals,” said Azar in an interview on Thursday.

Most of the severe CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus cases are occurring in older Americans with preexisting health issues such as obesity, lung disease, or diabetes, Azar told Fox News, echoing comments made by top health officials earlier this year. Most of the country, he added, can resume their normal activities while wearing face masks.

The United States recorded more than 38,000 cases of the virus on Wednesday, according to the COVID Tracking Project. However, deaths have not trended upward, the project said as more than 500,000 tests were conducted.

More than 2 million cases of the virus, and more than 121,000 deaths have been recorded so far, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.

Epoch Times Photo
A man wearing a face mask walks past a sign “Now Hiring” in front of a store amid the coronavirus pandemic in Arlington, Virginia, on May 14, 2020. (Olivier Douliery/AFP via Getty Images)

Azar told Fox News that he isn’t “minimizing” the situation but added that officials must “get to the bottom” of why the virus is spreading in some areas. Increased testing has led to a rise in cases among “younger, asymptomatic” people being counted as positives, Azar remarked.

“We’ve deployed teams to the county level to work with local leaders and community leaders to figure out why we’re seeing this kind of spreading,” he added.

In mid-June, Vice President Mike Pence, the head of the White House pandemic task force, said that a “second wave” hasn’t besieged the United States, downplaying headlines from legacy news outlets that have proclaimed otherwise.

“Lost in the coverage is the fact that today less than 6 percent of Americans tested each week are found to have the virus … And in the past five days, deaths are down to fewer than 750 a day, a dramatic decline from 2,500 a day a few weeks ago—and a far cry from the 5,000 a day that some were predicting,” Pence said.

The governors of New Jersey, Connecticut, and New York announced Wednesday that travelers from hard-hit states such as California, Texas, and Florida have to undergo quarantine for 14 days.

“We have to make sure the virus doesn’t come in on a plane,” said New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo in a conference call. “We worked very hard to get the viral transmission rate down, and we don’t want to see it go up,” he added, according to CNN.