WASHINGTON — White House coronavirus task force member Dr. Anthony Fauci on Friday singled out young Americans for spreading the coronavirus as daily cases in the US reach troubling new heights.
“The overwhelming majority of people who are now getting infected are young people, like the people that you see in the clips in the paper or out in the crowds enjoying themselves,” Fauci said.
“The thing that you really need to realize, that when you do that, you are part of a process, so if you get infected, you will infect someone else,” he added.
The stark warning was delivered at the first coronavirus task force briefing in two months as the number of new cases across the country reached an all-time high, forcing some governors to halt their plans for reopening.
The number of new daily infections spiked to 40,000 on Friday, with the states of Florida, Arizona and Utah struggling under a tsunami of new cases. The number of COVID-19 cases is rising in more than 30 states.
More young people are testing positive for coronavirus in Southern states where infections have resurged, with people under the age of 35 now representing nearly half of all new cases, Vice President Mike Pence noted.
Pence said the task force was directed to brief the public by President Trump as states like Florida on Friday reported a staggering 8,942 new infections, nearly doubling its former daily record.
Still, the vice president tried to strike an upbeat tone, citing the country’s adequate ventilator supply and the fact that many Americans were returning to work in states that had managed to combat the plague.
Pence also noted the fact that 34 states across the country are experiencing “a measure of stability” and that approximately half of the new infections in the US were people under the age of 35 — a group less likely to become seriously ill from the disease.
Both Pence and Dr. Deborah Birx said increased testing — now at 500,000 a day — was leading to more confirmed cases and noted that infection rates were actually decreasing.
“It’s almost inarguable that more testing is generating more cases,” Pence said, adding the new cases were “a reflection of a great success and expanding testing across the country.”
“We are not where we were two months ago,” he said.
Pence said he and Birx would be traveling to Arizona and Florida next week to get a ground report from local authorities.
On Tuesday, members of the task force testified before Congress, and Fauci told lawmakers he was concerned by a “disturbing surge” of COVID-19 cases in some parts of the country and warned, “the virus is not going to disappear.”
“The next couple of weeks are going to be critical in our ability to address those surges that we are seeing in Florida, in Texas, in Arizona and other states,” Fauci said.