Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar warned on CNN's "State of the Union" Sunday that the "window is closing" for the U.S. to take action and get the coronavirus under control, calling the current state of the outbreak a "very, very serious situation."

Why it matters: Azar's rhetoric stands in stark contrast to that of President Trump and Vice President Mike Pence, who claimed at a press briefing on Friday that the U.S. has "flattened the curve" and that much of the surge in new cases is attributable to an increase in testing.

  • Throughout the pandemic, health officials on the White House coronavirus task force have sounded the alarm about the seriousness of the crisis while political figures like Trump have sought to paint a rosier picture.
  • The reality is that the U.S. today is getting closer to the worst-case scenario envisioned in the spring — a nationwide crisis, made worse by a vacuum of political leadership, threatening to overwhelm hospitals and spread out of control.

The big picture: Azar argued that the U.S. is in better shape now than it was two months ago thanks to advances in surveillance infrastructure, testing, personal protective equipment and therapeutics.

  • He was frank, however, about the assessment that hospitalizations and deaths could increase in the next few weeks, as they're generally considered a lagging indicator to new cases.
  • Azar also pushed back on the idea that the new surge in cases is a result of reopening the country too fast, arguing, "That's not so much about what the law says on the reopening than what our behaviors are within that. If we act irresponsibly, if we don't social distance, if we don't use face coverings ... we're going to see spread of disease."

Go deeper: The coronavirus surge is real, and it's everywhere

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Updated 9 hours ago - Health

World coronavirus updates

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins; Map: Axios VisualsThe

The Philippines' economy sunk into recession as its gross domestic product shrank 16.5% in the second quarter — marking the lowest reading since 1981, official figures show.

The big picture: Millions of Filipinos went on lockdown Tuesday as cases surged past 106,300, with stay-at-home orders in place for two weeks in Manila and nearby provinces on the island of Luzon, per the BBC. The economy's contraction is the "deepest" on record, Bloomberg notes.

Coronavirus hotspots begin to improve

Data: The COVID Tracking Project, state health departments; Map: Andrew Witherspoon, Danielle Alberti, Sara Wise/Axios

Coronavirus infections are falling or holding steady in most of the country, including the hard-hit hotspots of Arizona, California and Florida.

The big picture: A decline in new infections is always good news, but don't be fooled: the U.S. still has a very long way to go to recover from this summer's surge.

Updated 21 hours ago - Health

N.Y., N.J. and Conn. to require travelers from 35 states to quarantine

Photo: Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Travelers from 35 states are now required to quarantine for 14 days when traveling to New York, New Jersey and Connecticut, per New York state's health department.

What's new: New York City will set up bridge and tunnel checkpoints to enforce the quarantine order, Mayor Bill de Blasio said Wednesday, per the Wall Street Journal.