States may not need “outright closure” again, says Dr. Fauci

Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, Dr. Anthony Fauci, wears a face mask while waiting to testify before the House Energy and Commerce Committee about the Trump Administration’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, on Capitol Hill Washington, DC June 23, 2020.

Kevin Dietsch | Pool via Reuters

States with growing coronavirus outbreaks may not need to close again as many did in March, but may consider stopping or reversing the reopening stages, White House coronavirus adviser Dr Anthony Fauci.

Fauci specifically cited Texas, Arizona, Florida and other states with “a serious problem” as places that may need to consider such measures.

“I wouldn’t necessarily say outright shutdown, but if someone goes from the gateway to phase one to phase two and gets into trouble in phase two, they may need to go back to phase one,” he said. Fauci, director of The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told members of Congress during a hearing before the Chamber’s Commerce and Energy Committee. “I don’t think they necessarily need to go back to the running of the bulls.”

“Gateway” refers to the requirements that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention established in its reopening guidelines that the agency says must be met before a state considers moving to the next phase of reopening. The gateway requirements include indicators such as a 14-day decrease in new cases daily and a decrease in visits to the emergency department.

Cases have increased in recent weeks in more than two dozen states, primarily across the southern and western United States. On Tuesday, California, Arizona and Texas reported more new cases in a single day than ever. In some parts of the country, including the Houston area of ​​Harris County, Texas, hospitals are approaching ICU capacity and may be forced to go into emergency operations “in a few weeks,” according to the office. from Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo.

Some parts of the country continue to successfully reduce transmission while gradually easing restrictions, Fauci said, citing New York City and Washington DC

“There are other areas, other states, other cities that have not done as well. I have considerable concern about that because I want to make sure we have everything under control,” he said. “Now it really is a mixture of things. We have some very well and others really in trouble.”

Some of the states that experienced sudden increases in new cases were among the first and most aggressive to reopen. Florida, for example, allowed most restaurants and stores to open with limited capacity on May 4. The heavily populated Miami-Dade and Broward counties did not reopen until May 18. On June 5, most of the state made further progress on the reopening, allowing more stores to reopen, as well as gyms and some stores to operate at full capacity.

“We are not closing. We are going to move forward … We are not going to back down,” Republican Governor Ron DeSantis said at a press conference a week ago. “You have to have the function of society.”

In some other states, the recent surge in new cases across the country has led officials to delay reopening plans. In Maine, Democratic Gov. Janet Mills announced Monday that bars would not be reopened for indoor service on July 1, as previously scheduled. In her announcement, she cited “the outbreaks we’ve seen across the country associated with internal service” as the cause of the delay.

In Oregon, Democratic Gov. Kate Brown announced earlier this month that the state would pause requests from counties to further advance the reopening for seven days due to a surge in new infections.

“This weeklong pause will give public health experts time to assess what factors are driving the spread of the virus,” Brown said in a statement on Twitter on June 11. “I will use the data we see in the coming week to determine whether to lift this break or extend it.”

States that delay reopening or even re-implement some restrictions should take the time to develop the ability to test, locate contacts, and isolate infected and exposed people, Fauci said. All three systems help detect propagation chains and cut them before they have a chance to become full-blown outbreaks.

“I hope that as the weeks and months go by, we can do what is concerned and mobilize the identification, isolation and tracing of contacts in those states,” he told members of Congress on Tuesday. “Those who have been in the news recently. Florida, Arizona, Texas and those states that now have a serious problem.”

Earlier Tuesday, Fauci said parts of the United States are beginning to see a “disturbing increase” in coronavirus infections. As of Monday, the seven-day average of new infections in the US USA It increased more than 30% compared to a week ago, according to a CNBC analysis of data from Johns Hopkins University.

Unlike many other countries in Europe and Asia, which were able to reduce the rate of spread from their peaks to a level of tens or hundreds of new cases per day, the United States struggled to bring daily infections to zero. US cases increased to an average of 30,000 infections per day at the peak of the outbreak before stabilizing at around 20,000 infections per day, Fauci said.

“Now we are going to go up [again]. A couple of days ago, there were 30,000 new infections, “he said.” That is very problematic for me. “

– CNBC’s Berkeley Lovelace contributed to this report.