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Top Us Health Official Waves Off Lockdowns Amid Soaring COVID-19 Cases

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HHS Assistant Secretary Brett Giroir stressed broad lockdowns were unnecessary to stop COVID-19 despite the daily record numbers of new cases.

Another top government official has said the US did not need to impose a lockdown to contain the coronavirus. Adm. Brett Giroir, assistant secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services, said the government has to change policies. The American people also need to change their behavior. Full shutdowns are helpful, but they were not required yet. Giroir is also the top official leading the US government’s response to the pandemic.

Shutdowns Unnecessary Against COVID-19

Giroir made his comments in an interview on NBC News’ Meet the Press. On the show, he said the government just needed slight policy changes to curb the virus. Shutdowns “would do it,” he said, “but we don’t need to.” With his comments, Giroir cited the costs of lockdown. Services such as vaccines or cancer screenings would be gone. There would also be a wave of substance abuse and mental health problems.

If they don’t want to get the virus, Americans shouldn’t go to bars, according to Giroir. Restaurants should also just cater to 50% capacity. People should even start washing their hands and wearing masks in public. Giroir stressed that if people follow these rules by “90 to 95 percent,” they can stop the virus from spreading. They would also get similar results as in total lockdown.

More Bad News for the US

Despite his comments, the United States has seen record numbers of COVID-19 cases. MSNBC reports that the US has tallied “almost 3.3 million cases as of Sunday,” with “more than 135,000 deaths.” Moreover, the US has reported “more than 70,000 new cases” on Friday. The numbers set a new daily record.

MSNBC has reported a succession of single-day increases starting June 24. There were 45,557 single-day cases on June 24. On June 27, the number increased by 45,942. Finally, 46,500 new cases appeared on last Tuesday.

Of the 50 states, only four have seen a drop in cases over two weeks, MSNBC reports. Over the same period, 28 states and territories have had their cases rise by at least 50%. The coronavirus threatens to overload the country’s hospitals. In Houston, for example, hospitals have reached full capacity. Their 12 busiest hospitals have decided to turn away new patients. Texas has not yet issued another stay-at-home order to slow the virus’ spread.

Optimism from the US Government

Yet, Giroir stayed confident that the US is “better off than it was at the beginning of the pandemic.” He stressed that the government was still battling, and it was not losing. They also had “a lot more tools in our toolbox” to combat the virus.

About three-quarters of US hospitals still have supplies of personal protective equipment (PPE) to last for two weeks. Only 2 percent of hospitals have three days’ supplies. Increased testing capacity has also helped them test more people. Giroir also welcomed “advances in treatments.”

Even if plenty of Americans get sick, Giroir notes that they can treat all victims. “We have dexamethasone, remdesivir,” he said. Antiviral drugs can treat COVID-19 patients. “The mortality rate is going very, very much down,” Giroir added. There is still no cure for COVID-19. Possible vaccines are still in their trial stages.

Rob is Tekrati's senior editor. He is also a nationally syndicated columnist and author. Rob lives in NYC and covers the intersection of money, politics and finance.

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