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

Oct 25, 2020 - World

Spain declares new state of emergency as COVID-19 cases surge

Photo: Gabriel Bouts/AFP via Getty Image

Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez on Sunday announced a new state of emergency that imposes a curfew in an effort to combat a rising number of coronavirus cases.

Driving the news: The mandate comes less than a week after Spain became the first nation in Western Europe to exceed 1 million COVID-19 cases.

Updated Oct 25, 2020 - Health

13 states set single-day coronavirus case records last week

Data: Compiled by Axios; Map: Danielle Alberti/Axios

13 states set new highs last week for coronavirus infections recorded in a single day, according to the COVID Tracking Project (CTP) and state health departments. Kansas, Montana, North Dakota and Wyoming surpassed records from the previous week.

The big picture: The pandemic is getting worse again across the country, and daily coronavirus cases have risen in the U.S. for six straight weeks, according to a seven-day average tracked by Axios. The U.S. reported over 80,000 new cases on both Friday and Saturday.

Updated 19 hours ago - World

Australian city Melbourne to exit one of world's longest lockdowns

People socially distance at St. Kilda beach in Melbourne, Australia. Photo: Darrian Traynor/Getty Images

Coronavirus restrictions in Victoria, Australia, will ease and state capital Melbourne's lockdown will end after officials recorded Monday no new cases for the first time in 139 days, state Premier Dan Andrews announced.

Why it matters: The state has been the epicenter of Australia's pandemic and Melbourne has endured one of the world's longest lockdowns. The measure will have been in place for 112 days when it lifts late Tuesday.