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

Updated Aug 4, 2020 - Axios Events

Watch: How hospitals have responded to the pandemic

On Tuesday, August 4 Axios health care reporter Caitlin Owens hosted a virtual event on how hospitals have been responding to the coronavirus pandemic, from getting PPE to building the future of resilient health systems, featuring Atrium Health CEO Eugene Woods, K Health co-founder & CEO Allon Bloch and Columbia University Medical Center professor and FemInEm founder Dr. Dara Kass.

Allon Bloch argued that a rise in the usage of telemedicine presents an opportunity for people to reimagine how the U.S. health care system can be more efficient and cost-effective.

  • On integrating more data analysis into medicine: "There's a massive opportunity to give people a much more nuanced approach to medicine, a much more personalized one, based on information [from] their own personal history or from similar situations...It's a little bit overlooked in medicine."
  • On how telemedicine can positively impact the health care system: "There's a lot of people that are either not insured or underinsured. They have really high deductibles. They can't afford doctors...[telemedicine] can give people access to really high quality primary care at a much lower cost."

Eugene Woods discussed his company's "virtual hospitals" and how this model has the potential to reduce overflow into physical hospitals.

  • On his company's "virtual hospital" treating COVID-19 patients: "We've treated about 13,000 patients in our virtual hospital and only three percent have had to be transferred or admitted from the virtual hospital into [a physical] hospital."
  • On reducing disparities in COVID-19 testing: "[Coronavirus] has laid bare the racial disparities that have existed in these communities for decades...Back in March, we realized there were disparities in terms of testing. So we have roving medical vans and went into those [affected] communities. We so far have hit about 55 different community host sites."

Dr. Dara Kass unpacked her experience of working in the ICUs in New York City during the initial COVID-19 outbreak, and how safety measures like masks and social distancing impacted the rate and spread of the virus.

  • How wearing masks reduces the volume of COVID-19 patients coming to the ICU: "We saw the effects of our work of social distancing and wearing masks as early as April take effect pretty dramatically...We also saw the peak come down as almost as quickly as it went up."
  • How this crisis compounds existing gender inequities: "Our child care crisis was bad before, pay inequity was bad before — it's exacerbated by this at this moment. We're worried about frontline healthcare workers now, not even being able to go back to work because of the fact that child care will be inaccessible and schools are probably not going to open."

Thank you Philips for sponsoring this event.

Updated 15 hours ago - Health

U.S. coronavirus updates

Data: The COVID Tracking Project; Note: Does not include probable deaths from New York City; Map: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

Despite some case decreases, COVID-19 deaths are on the rise in the U.S., with California reporting a record-high average this week.

Driving the news: President Trump said in an interview with “Axios on HBO” he thinks the coronavirus is as well-controlled in the U.S. as it can be, despite dramatic surges in new infections over the summer and more than 150,000 American deaths.

Aug 5, 2020 - Health

Fauci calls U.S. coronavirus testing delays "totally unacceptable"

NIAID director Anthony Fauci told CNN's chief medical correspondent Sanjay Gupta on Wednesday that it is "totally unacceptable" that Gupta was unable to test a patient for the coronavirus before operating on them.

Why it matters: Mass delays in coronavirus test results across the U.S. have thwarted mitigation efforts recommended by public health experts, per the New York Times. In absence of a federal plan, a bipartisan group of governors on Tuesday proposed one of the country's first interstate testing strategies.