June 30, 2020 -- With the number of coronavirus cases growing across the country, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said Sunday that the "window is closing" for the United States to control the pandemic.
"Things are very different from 2 months ago,” Azar said on CNN’s State of the Union. “So it is a very different situation, but this is a very, very serious situation and the window is closing for us to take action and get this under control.”
The U.S. reported 40,173 new cases on Friday -- a daily record, CNN reported. CNN said 36 states showed an increase in new cases over the past week, with only two states -- Connecticut and Rhode Island – showing a decline. The United States now has reported 2.4 million cases and more than 115,000 deaths.
Some of the states that reopened their economies early, such as Texas and Florida, are now seeing spikes in new cases. Azar said "inappropriate individual behavior" caused the spikes, not the early reopenings.
"That's not so much about what the law says on the reopening as what our behaviors are within that," he said. If Americans "act irresponsibly” by not social distancing and not wearing face masks, “we're going to see spread of disease,” he said.
In contrast, Tom Frieden, MD, a former CDC director, said on Fox News Sunday that the early reopenings contributed to the spike in cases in some southern and western states.
"If you open when cases are still increasing, as many states did, it's like leaning into a left hook," Frieden said. "You're going to get hit hard. And that's what's happening."
Frieden said he has "100% certainty" that a rise in cases – not just increased testing -- is driving the spikes. The higher number of positive cases is “just the tip of the iceberg" of the true spread, he said.
Frieden said the U.S. is a long way from defeating COVID-19. "The virus has the upper hand," he said. "This virus is not going to go away on its own. We have to stop it."