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Francis Collins, director of the National Institutes of Health, said on NBC's "Meet the Press" Sunday that the reason the U.S. is doing "so poorly" with the coronavirus compared to Europe is because many states ignored federal reopening guidelines and let their guard down "imagining this was just a New York problem."

Why it matters: The U.S. leads the world with over 3.7 million confirmed cases and 140,000 deaths, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. While Europe was initially hit hard by the pandemic, most countries have successfully flattened their infection curve and lifted lockdown restrictions.

What he's saying: "We basically did a good job in New York and New Jersey and Connecticut with that terrible crisis that happened and took many lives. ... And basically steps were put in place and if you look to see what's happening now in those areas, they came down very close to zero," Collins said.

  • "But meanwhile, the rest of the country, perhaps imagining this was just a New York problem, kind of went about their business, didn't really pay that much attention to CDC's recommendations about the phases necessary to open up safely, and jumped over some of those hoops."
  • "And people started congregating and not wearing masks and feeling like it's over and maybe summer, it will all go away. And now here we are not only with 70,000 new cases almost every day, but from my perspective also, a quite concerning number of hospitalizations."

The bottom line: Collins insisted that Americans are fully capable of "rising to a crisis" and said that he does not consider masks to be "optional" when it comes to people protecting themselves and those around them.

Go deeper

Updated Oct 26, 2020 - Health

Fox News president and several hosts advised to quarantine in COVID-19 precaution

A political display is posted on the outside of the Fox News headquarters on 6th Avenue in New York City in July. Photo: Timothy A. Clary/AFP via Getty Images

Fox News president Jay Wallace and anchors Bret Baier and Martha MacCallum are among those recommended to get tested and quarantine after possible exposure to COVID-19, the New York Times first reported Sunday night.

The big picture: The Fox News contingent, which also included "The Five" show hosts Juan Williams and Dana Perino, were on a charter flight from Nashville to New York following Thursday's presidential debate with a person who later tested positive for the coronavirus.

Nearly two dozen Minnesota COVID cases traced to 3 Trump campaign events

President Trump speaks to a crowd of 2,000 supporters during a rally at the Bemidji Regional Airport on Sept. 18 in Bemidji, Minnesota. Photo by Stephen Maturen via Getty

The Minnesota Department of Health has traced nearly two dozen coronavirus cases to three campaign events held last month, an official told Axios on Monday.

Why it matters: The Trump campaign has come under repeated fire for being lax about mask requirements and not adhering to social distancing and other local guidelines at its events.

Oct 27, 2020 - Health

Axios-Ipsos poll: Federal response has only gotten worse

Data: Axios/Ipsos poll; Note ±3.3% margin of error for the total sample size; Chart: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

Americans believe the federal government's handling of the pandemic has gotten significantly worse over time, according to the latest installment of the Axios/Ipsos Coronavirus Index.

Why it matters: Every other institution measured in Week 29 of our national poll — from state and local governments to people's own employers and area businesses — won positive marks for improving their responses since those panicked early days in March and April.