Health leaders testify on COVID-19 surge, vaccines

June 24, 2020

Several federal public health leaders—all wearing face coverings—testified to the Congressional House Energy and Commerce Committee on how the United States is continuing to fight COVID-19 and plan for a tough fall that will see the novel coronavirus circulate alongside seasonal flu.

Anthony Fauci, MD, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), began by addressing the current surge of cases. Recently, U.S. officials tracked over 30,000 new COVID-19 infections, a number similar to outbreak highs previously recorded in April. Several southern and western states, including Arizona, Texas, and Florida, are well into their second week of record-setting hospitalizations. Fauci said the increase in cases is due to community spread of the virus—and not just increased testing.

"That's something that I'm really quite concerned about, and you know that this has been something that's been in the press over the past couple of days," Fauci said. "Over the past couple of days, we were going down from 30,000 to 25 [thousand] to 20 [thousand]. And now we sort of stayed about flat, and now we are going up. A couple of days ago, there were 30,000 new infections. That's very troublesome to me."

According to a new Reuters analysis, U.S. cases rose 25 percent in the past week, a notable increase from a 1 percent rise in the second week of June and a 3 percent increase in the first week of June. Twenty-five states reported an increase of 10 percent or more new cases, and 10 states noted a 50 percent increase. Texas reported an increase of 84 percent, Florida 87 percent, and Arizona 90 percent.

According to the Johns Hopkins University COVID-19 tracker, the U.S. currently has over 2.3 million COVID-19 cases and more than 121,000 deaths.

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