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Health and Human Services Sec. Alex Azar threw some cold water on fears about the number of coronavirus cases spiking in states that are reopening.
Though he cautioned that it is still too soon to determine any upward trend, Azar confirmed during an appearance on CNN’s “State of the Union” Sunday that the reopening states have not seen a dramatic increase in the number of positive COVID-19 cases, despite the hysteria hyped by the liberal media.
Azar told CNN host Jake Tapper that they were actually seeing the opposite scenario, as areas that remain closed are the ones seeing a spike in the number of cases.
“Some states have been reopening despite warnings of dire consequences from health experts,” Tapper said, noting that states like Georgia and Colorado began reopening a few weeks ago “and it seems at least so far that we have not seen a dramatic spike in new cases from those two states.”
“We are seeing that in places that are opening, we’re not seeing this spike in cases,” Azar responded. “We still see spikes in some areas that are, in fact, closed, very localized situations.”
The secretary then noted some of the key factors in determining the reopening of states as the nation moves forward.
“First, we need to have good surveillance. So we need to look for influenza-like illness and other respiratory diseases,” he said.
“We’ve got a great surveillance system for that. We look for spikes and early indicators. We have adequate testing capacity. We need to make sure anybody who is symptomatic is tested and that we have adequate asymptomatic surveillance in areas of greatest burden,” he added, citing examples like nursing homes and prisons.
Azar explained the steps that would be taken if a spike in COVID-19 cases is detected in an area, again reiterating that the methods would address the virus while still allowing a safe reopening of the country’s economy.
“Then we use the traditional public health tools to surge in there,” he told Tapper. “We would test everybody there. We would do contact tracing and isolation. That’s where places like Georgia and Colorado, as they reopen, it’s these tools that allow us to be reopened, but do so in a safe way that lets the economy function but allows us to use the traditional tools of public health to move forward as we would with any other disease.”
The liberal media has continued to demonize states that have chosen to re-open, targeting those run by Republican governors, and warning that coronavirus deaths will spiral upwards. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi claimed more testing is needed.
“We have no idea the size of this challenge to our country because we have not sufficiently tested,” she said on CBS’ “Face the Nation” Sunday.
Azar believes local governments should make the determinations on reopening based not on a “one size fits all” method but on their own local factors.
“The president has left it up to the states to know their local situation the best. It’s very hard to judge in any community whether a bar being open, a restaurant, a school is the right thing. That’s why the local leaders lead this, the states supervise it, and the federal government provides expertise and support from our level,” he said.
“These are very localized determinations,” he said, explaining that “in almost half of our reported counties, we’ve had not a single death.”
“There should not be a one size fits all approaches to reopening but reopen we must because it’s not health versus the economy. It’s actually health versus healthy,” Azar told Tapper.
Azar reiterated the need for reopening, and the “serious consequences” of keeping areas and businesses shut down.
“But reopen we must, because it’s not health versus the economy. It’s actually health versus health. There are serious health consequences to keeping us shut down, whether it’s the suicide rates or cardiac procedures not being received, pediatric vaccinations declining,” he argued. “All of these are critical health needs that are part of reopening the economy.”
Tapper pushed back, questioning the concern over reports showing people venturing out without masks and not practicing social distancing.
“In any individual instance you’re going to see people doing things that are irresponsible, that’s part of the freedom we have here in America.” HHS Secretary Alex Azar reacts to some Americans not following federal guidance to wear a mask and social distance #CNNSOTU pic.twitter.com/JtHU1SkPg9
— State of the Union (@CNNSotu) May 17, 2020
Azar acknowledged there will be those who are “irresponsible” but defended the freedoms of Americans to make their decisions.
“I think, in any individual instance, you’re going to see people doing things that are irresponsible,” he said.
“That’s part of the freedom that we have here in America,” he said. “But we’ve got to get this economy and our people out and about, working, going to school again, because there are serious health consequences to what we’ve been going through.”
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