"We were going down from 30,000 to 25 to 20, and now we sort of stayed about flat and now we're going up." The country's top infectious disease expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci, said on Tuesday that the United States was currently seeing a disturbing surge of coronavirus infections.
"A couple of days ago, there were 30000 new infections.
That's very troublesome to me." A Reuters analysis found that the U.S. saw a 25% increase in new cases of COVID-19 last week compared to the week prior, with Florida, Texas and Arizona experiencing record spikes in new infections.
"Right now the next couple of weeks are going to be critical in our ability to address those surges we are seeing in Florida, Texas, Arizona, and other states.
They're not the only ones that are having a difficulty." The focus at the House Energy and Commerce committee hearing quickly turned to President Donald Trump, who has said repeatedly that more testing has led to a higher number of cases being identified, and said at his Saturday rally that he had asked for a slowdown in testing for the virus.
"So I said to my people, 'slow the testing, please.'" The White House later said he was kidding.
"It was a comment that he made in jest.
It was a comment that he made in passing." But, on Tuesday, Trump muddied the water.
REPORTER: "At that rally, when you said you asked your people to slow down testing, were you just kidding or do you have a plan to slow down testing.
TRUMP: "I don't kid.
Let me just tell you.
Let me make it clear.
We have got the greatest testing program anywhere in the world." At Tuesday's hearing, it was Fauci - seen by many as the trusted voice during the pandemic - who was called on to give a straight answer.
"I as a member of the task force and my colleagues on the task force, to my knowledge, I know for sure, but to my knowledge, none of us have ever been told to slow down on testing.
That just is a fact." Fauci said one reason infections in the U.S. were rising some states was an increase in community spread.
He and other experts had WARNED that reopening too soon could lead to a fresh wave of infections.
But, confronted with the fact that several states - many of them in the south - have relaxed social distancing rules, Fauci offered his best advice considering the circumstances.
"I'll say it yet again, that you should not congregate in crowds.
You should keep distance.
And even though many people, for a variety of reasons, do not listen to the - not suggestion but - plea to not congregate in crowds, some people are going to do that anyway.
If you do, please wear a mask... in a demonstration or in a rally or wherever... So plan A don't go in a crowd.
If you do, make sure you wear a mask." U.S. health officials said recently that states seeing a spike in COVID-19 cases may need to reimpose restrictions similar to what was implemented in March.
This week, California and Texas both reported over 5,000 new infections in a single day.
Arizona and Nevada have also reported record increases in new cases this week, after recording all-time highs last week.
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