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Here's the latest:
As New York continues to record low numbers in COVID-19 cases, many states across the country are reeling as their coronavirus case counts are skyrocketing. On Friday, there were 44,702 reported COVID-19 cases in the United States, setting a new record for cases for a third day in a row.
Amidst these startling new numbers—and the overall 2,469,441 cases and 125,081 deaths in the U.S.—the White House Coronavirus Task Force held its first public briefing since April. Appearing not at the White House but at the Department of Health and Human Services on Friday, Vice President Mike Pence tried to spin the spikes in the illness by mentioning there were more jobs added to the economy.
"As we see new cases rising, and we’re tracking them very carefully, there may be a tendency among the American people to think that we are back to the place that we were two months ago — in a time of great losses and a great hardship on the American people... The reality is we’re in a much better place," said Pence.
He also said, "As we stand here today, all 50 states and territories across the country are opening up, and safely and responsibly."
On Friday, Texas Governor Greg Abbott and Florida Governor Ron DeSantis ordered that bars be shut down because of the steep increase in coronavirus cases in their states. In an interview, Abbott further expressed his regrets, "If I could go back and redo anything, it probably would have been to slow down the opening of bars, now seeing the aftermath of how quickly the coronavirus spreads in the bar setting."
Dr. Anthony Fauci, task force member and director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, had a totally different perspective than Pence.
The doctor, who has decades of public health expertise, was more forceful, saying, "I just want to make a plea with people, when they understand the stress that they're under, as we try to tackle not only those states, but the light-colored part of the country, even though they've done well—they may have gotten hit badly like New York and then came down, or they may not have got hit badly at all-- they are vulnerable. If we don't extinguish the outbreak, sooner or later, even ones that are doing well are going to be vulnerable to the spread. So we need to take that into account because we are all in it together. And the only way we're going to end it is by ending it together."
"It's a paradigm shift because we're dealing with young people, people who are going to be asymptomatic, and people who are getting infected in a community setting, not an outbreak setting where you know who to identify, isolate and contact trace," Fauci said,referring to people who are congregating.
The Washington Post reports, "Pence, when pressed by a reporter, declined to recommend that all Americans wear masks as public health officials advise, instead urging people to listen to their local health officials and pray. Deborah Birx, White House coronavirus response coordinator, urged everyone to wear a mask."
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo released Friday's COVID-19 statistics, noting that less than one percent of tests were positive: Of 73,262 tests, there were 703 positive cases or 0.96 positive. The state also recorded 13 deaths, and hospitalizations are now at 908 statewide. "In New York, our response to COVID-19 has always been by the numbers," Cuomo said in a statement. "Today's numbers show a continued, steady decline in our hospitalization and death rates, and proves that a response based on science, not politics, is only way to defeat this virus. While this is good news, New Yorkers cannot become complacent - we must continue to remain vigilant and smart in the fight against COVID-19. Wear a mask, socially distance - be New York Tough!"