Overnight Health Care: Fauci says hard-hit states should be 'pausing' reopening | Florida records record number of coronavirus deaths | Redfield says keeping schools closed poses greater health threat to children than reopening
FDA commissioner sends Memorial Day weekend warning: 'Coronavirus is not yet contained'
Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Commissioner Stephen Hahn on Sunday warned that the U.S. has to yet to contain the novel coronavirus, as states gradually reopen and people flock to parks and beaches during Memorial Day weekend.
"With the country starting to open up this holiday weekend, I again remind everyone that the coronavirus is not yet contained," Hahn said on Twitter.
"It is up to every individual to protect themselves and their community," he added. "Social distancing, hand washing and wearing masks protect us all."
The comments echoed messages health officials have emphasized in recent weeks as states gradually lift restrictions implemented at the beginning of the coronavirus outbreak. Every U.S. state has eased at least some quarantine measures and states like New York, Connecticut and Delaware allowed beaches to open ahead of the holiday.
States are still urging residents to wear face coverings in public, however, and to practice social distancing. Deborah Birx, the White House coronavirus task force coordinator, appeared on multiple news programs on Sunday to drive home this point.
She said on ABC's "This Week" that people could proceed with normal Memorial Day weekend activities, but she stressed that social-distancing guidelines must continue to be recognized.
"I think it's our job as public health officials every day to be informing the public of what puts them at risk," Birx said. "And we've made it clear that there's asymptomatic spread. So we really want to be clear all the time that social distancing is absolutely critical. And if you can't social distance and you're outside, you must wear a mask."
As of Sunday afternoon, the U.S. had reported more than 1.6 confirmed cases of COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, and roughly 97,000 deaths from it, according to a Johns Hopkins University database.
The outbreak caused numerous states to institute stay-at-home orders in March, causing a mass shuttering of schools and non-essential businesses. President Trump has aggressively pushed for reopening the country in recent weeks, arguing that the U.S. economy can't be sustained in an extended shutdown.
Anthony Fauci, the nation's top infectious disease expert and a key member of the coronavirus task force, said last week that a prolonged shutdown could cause "irreparable damage." He also noted that reopening plans must include "very significant precautions."