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Trump testing czar warns local officials may impose 'draconian measures' to combat COVID-19

Trump testing czar warns local officials may impose 'draconian measures' to combat COVID-19
© AP/Pool

President TrumpDonald John TrumpGeraldo Rivera on Trump sowing election result doubts: 'Enough is enough now' Murkowski: Trump should concede White House race Scott Atlas resigns as coronavirus adviser to Trump MORE's appointed COVID-19 testing czar on Wednesday warned that state and local officials could impose "draconian measures" to limit the virus's spread if people don't take the needed steps of social distancing and wearing masks.

"We still can control this" by wearing masks, social distancing and being careful around the holidays, Brett Giroir, the assistant secretary of health, said in an appearance on NBC's "Today" show.

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Giroir cautioned residents to heed pandemic cautions, underscoring that local officials in some states could impose "more draconian measures because cases will go up if we don't make a change."

Already, some states with populated city centers have rolled back pandemic restrictions mirroring the measures imposed earlier this year.

Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker (D) announced Tuesday a return to some coronavirus restrictions, such as the ban on indoor dining and bars.

However, some localized courts have interjected against pandemic measures for a second go-around.

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Michigan's Supreme Court ruled against Democratic Gov. Gretchen WhitmerGretchen WhitmerArticles of impeachment filed against GOP Ohio governor over coronavirus orders Pope Francis swipes at groups protesting COVID-19 restrictions in NYT op-ed Kamala Harris, Stacey Abrams among nominees for Time magazine's 2020 Person of the Year MORE's request to delay the enactment of a previous court decision that determined she did not have the proper authority to continue a state of emergency during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Whitmer imposed some of the nation's most stringent sets of COVID-19 measures, leading to a feud with Trump over the restrictions.

Giroir's comments come as the nation deals with a surge in coronavirus cases and hospitalizations, setting daily records.

"Yes, we're getting more cases identified, but the cases are actually going up, and we know that too because hospitalizations are going up," Giroir said.

"Now, the [daily hospitalization] peak was in the 70,000s, in July, we're at about 42, 43,000 now, so we're much less in July. But those are going up, those are real. And we do know that deaths are increasing, unfortunately," he added.

There are roughly 43,000 people in the hospital with the coronavirus, according to the COVID Tracking Project, up from about 30,000 at the beginning of October.

The U.S. has averaged nearly 71,000 new COVID-19 cases per day in the past week, Johns Hopkins University data showed.

Giroir said that several areas of the country are experiencing high traffic volumes in medical facilities, though noted overall hospitalization rates are drastically lower than the peak in the summer.