Jul 2, 2020 - Health

Coronavirus testing czar: "We are not flattening the curve right now"

Adm. Brett Giroir, the Health and Human Services official overseeing the nation's coronavirus testing efforts, told Congress Thursday that the U.S. is "not flattening the curve right now," and that the nationwide surge in new cases is not simply a result of more testing.

Why it matters: President Trump said at a press conference just hours earlier that the U.S. is getting the coronavirus "under control." He and other top members of his administration have sought to downplay the growing surge in infections as largely a product of increased testing.

The big picture:The number of coronavirus cases increased in nearly every state over the last week.

  • Florida reported 10,109 new cases on Thursday, the state's highest single-day increase yet.
  • Anthony Fauci testified earlier this week that he would "not be surprised" if the U.S. begins reporting as many as 100,000 new coronavirus cases per day.

What they're saying: "There is no question that the more testing you get, the more you will uncover, but we do believe this is a real increase in cases because of the percent positivities are going up. So this is real increases in cases," Giroir said.

  • Asked how many states met the White House's recommendation for 14 days of declining cases before reopening, Giroir said: "We have seen states reopen quickly and have had no cases. We've seen states not reopen and have a lot of cases."
  • "We really do believe the current outbreak is primarily due to under 35s with a lot of gatherings, not appropriate protection like masks. Yes, it’s important to reopen and we believe in the guidelines, but I think the weight of the evidence is guidelines are not -- you know the personal responsibility is really a key right now."

What to watch: Giroir said on a call with reporters Wednesday that the Department of Health and Human Services is looking to partner with several states, including Texas, Florida and Louisiana, to test in mid-size communities to identify cases in younger populations that may be unknowingly be spreading COVID-19.

  • He also expressed concern that the July 4 holiday weekend could worsen already troubled cities and cause new outbreaks for others.

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