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Drive-up COVID-19 testing. Photo: Aaron Lavinsky/Star Tribune via Getty Images

Health and Human Services official Adm. Brett Giroir urged Americans to wear masks and practice social distancing heading into July 4 weekend as the agency coordinates a "blitz" of coronavirus testing for states and local areas experiencing outbreaks.

The big picture: Targeted testing for people 35 and under regardless if they are sick can help supplement data collected through contact tracing — a challenge public health agencies have had when outbreaks are not tied to one specific event, Giroir said on a press call Wednesday.

What's happening: HHS 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 spreading COVID-19.

Yes, but: HHS's nationwide goal to conduct 13.7 million tests in July can only go so far when individuals do not practice social distancing or wear face coverings. "We cannot test our way out of this," Giroir said.

  • "If we don’t have the personal discipline and do the kinds of things that are known public health measures, we cannot test our way out of this. But it’s a combination of testing while we really reinforce the personal responsibility and behaviors that we’re depending on the under 35 crowd to really implement," he said.

Of note: South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem (R) said Monday that attendees at a July 3 event at Mount Rushmore where President Trump is set to speak will not be required to practice social distancing.

Go deeper: Minorities have less access to coronavirus testing

Go deeper

Washington's big contact tracing problem

Photo Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios. Photo: Chris Graythen/Getty Images

The D.C. Health Department is trying to jump-start contact tracing efforts around the White House's coronavirus outbreak. Tracing has been inadequate so far even as cases spread deeper into the city.

The big picture: The White House has decided not to move forward with recommended public health protocols of contact tracing and testing since President Trump tested positive for the virus. 

McConnell says he hasn't been to White House since August due to COVID-19 practices

Photo Caroline Brehman/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell on Thursday told reporters in Kentucky that he hasn't been to the White House since Aug. 6 due to their handling of COVID-19 precautions.

What he's saying: "My impression was their approach to how to handle this was different from mine and what I insisted we do in the Senate, which was to wear a mask and practice social distancing," McConnell said.

Pence defends hosting Amy Coney Barrett Rose Garden ceremony during pandemic

Vice President Pence defended the White House's decision to hold a large event in the Rose Garden to introduce Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett at Wednesday's vice presidential debate, noting that it was outdoors and "many people" were tested for the coronavirus beforehand.

Why it matters: Multiple people who attended the event later tested positive for the virus, including President Trump, first lady Melania Trump, multiple aides to the president and two Republican members of the Senate Judiciary Committee.