US faces 'serious problem' as states see virus surge: top expert

Agence France-Presse

Posted at Jun 27 2020 04:37 AM

US faces 'serious problem' as states see virus surge: top expert 1
Director of the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases Dr. Anthony Fauci wears a face mask while he waits to testify before the House Committee on Energy and Commerce on the Trump Administration's Response to the COVID-19 Pandemic, on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, US June 23, 2020. Kevin Dietsch/Pool via Reuters

WASHINGTON - The United States is facing a "serious problem" as southern and western states experience a surge in coronavirus cases, leading government expert Anthony Fauci said Friday.

"We are facing a serious problem in certain areas," said Fauci, noting that while some places were currently faring far better than others, the entire country was "interconnected" and remained at risk.

"So people are infecting other people, and then ultimately you will infect someone who's vulnerable," Fauci said. "And that maybe somebody's grandmother, grandfather, uncle, who is on chemotherapy and who's on radiation or chemotherapy or a child who has leukemia."

"We are all in it together, and the only way we're going to end it is by ending it together," he added.

He spoke at the first news briefing in two months by the coronavirus task force led by Vice President Mike Pence -- who sought to strike a reassuring tone, telling Americans the situation was not comparable to the height of the crisis in the country's northeast, in March and April.

"We're in a much stronger place. The truth is we did slow the spread, we flattened the curve," Pence said.

Pence called on young Americans to follow social distancing guidelines -- saying they had a "particular responsibility" to do so -- but did not mention the wearing of masks.

He later defended President Donald Trump's controversial decision to resume large campaign rallies despite the pandemic, saying Americans had a right to freedom of speech and assembly.

The task force briefing was called after a surge in new cases of the virus in southern and western states including Florida and Texas. On Friday both announced measures to discourage people from meeting in groups, such as ordering bars closed or banning on-site alcohol consumption at them.