US no longer ‘flattening the curve’ of coronavirus pandemic, administration official says
The U.S. is no longer “flattening the curve” of the COVID-19 epidemic, a Trump administration official told members of Congress Thursday.
“We are not flattening the curve right now. The curve is still going up,” Adm. Brett Giroir, the assistant secretary for health at the Department of Health and Human Services, said during a House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis hearing.
“Flatten the curve,” which means to slow the rate of COVID-19 infections, was a mantra used in the early days of the pandemic when officials were worried about overwhelming the health care system, particularly in New York.
Giroir noted that the curve was successfully flattened at one point, but the U.S. is once again seeing an increase in cases, led by states in the South and West.
Arizona, California, Florida and Texas make up about 50 percent of the new cases in the U.S. every day.
Dozens of other states are also reporting increases not only in overall cases but also in the percentage of tests coming back positive, indicators of growing outbreaks.
The U.S. reported 50,000 new COVID-19 cases Wednesday, surpassing previous single-day highs and levels seen when New York was the epicenter of the epidemic.
While President Trump and others initially blamed the surge of cases on increased testing, Giroir acknowledged Thursday that is not the case.
“There is no question the more testing you do the more you will uncover, but we do believe this is a real increase in cases because the percent positive [tests] is going up,” he said.
He added that the administration believes the current outbreaks are due to people under the age of 35 gathering without wearing masks or following social distancing measures.
California, Texas, Arizona and Florida have ordered the closure of bars and other indoor venues after experts warned they were becoming a source of infection in their communities.
Experts also note that cases are increasing because some states allowed businesses to reopen too soon, going against the guidelines issued by the White House coronavirus task force.
Trump had pushed states to reopen before meeting the measures set by the guidelines, and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said Thursday that is not regretted by the administration.
“No, absolutely not,” Mnuchin said. “I think we’ve had a very careful plan working with the states — this is primarily the states’ responsibility — but working with the states.”