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Window to get COVID-19 under control closing, HHS secretary says

Window to get COVID-19 under control closing, HHS secretary says
Posted at 10:58 AM, Jun 30, 2020
and last updated 2020-06-30 15:07:34-04

The window to get COVID-19 under control is closing. That's the warning from the head of the Department of Health and Human Services.

Secretary Alex Azar denies that reopening too quickly was tied to the recent rise in cases, blaming it instead on inappropriate individual behavior.

"If we don't social distance, if we don't use face coverings in settings where we can't social distance, if we don't practice appropriate social hygiene, we're going to see spread of disease,” said Azar.

However, in Texas, the governor says if he could go back and redo anything, it would be to slow down the reopening of bars. In that state, the number of new cases has jumped from an average of 2,000 to more than 5,000 a day.

Hospitalizations are rising at an alarming rate with some nearing capacity.

"Please understand these patients are very sick,” said Dr. Joseph Varon, Chief Medical Officer at the United Memorial Medical Center. “There are patients that are about to die. So, we have to admit them. Once they are here despite everything that we do, I mean they have to stay in the hospital anywhere from 5 to 10 days at a minimum. So those beds will be occupied for a period of 5 to 10 days so sooner or later within the next two weeks we are going to be at full house."

Azar says the U.S. is actually better positioned now to handle the pandemic. He pointed to increased testing, contact tracing and greater reserves of personal protective equipment.