On Sunday, White House trade adviser Peter Navarro told CNN that the Trump administration is preparing for the possibility of a higher transmission of COVID-19 in the fall as states gradually reopen.
“We are filling the stockpile in anticipation of a possible problem in the fall. We are doing everything we can beneath the surface, working as hard as we possibly can. You prepare for what can possibly happen. I’m not saying it’s going to happen, but of course you prepare,” said Navarro.
Navarro’s statement comes after the United States reported more than 30,000 daily COVID-19 cases between June 19 and 20, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. New cases are increasing across the South, West and Midwest of the country while eight states hit record highs for single-day new cases on Saturday.
Florida reported 4,049 new cases and South Carolina reported 1,157 new cases on Saturday, breaking their daily case count record for the third consecutive day. Texas too reported 4,430 confirmed cases on Saturday, its highest single-day increase after entertainment venues and businesses were allowed to reopen at limited capacity.
Other states that reported record high cases on Saturday include Missouri, Nevada, Arizona, Utah and Montana. 23 states, Guam and US Virgin Islands have seen their COVID-19 cases increase in the past two weeks. 20 states, Washington DC and Puerto Rico on the other hand, have seen a decline in their cases during the same period.
In a campaign rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma on Saturday, President Donald Trump attributed the rise in cases to increased testing.
“When you do testing to that extent, you’re going to find more people; you’re going to find more cases. So I said to my people, ‘Slow the testing down please.”
Trump’s statements drew swift criticism from congressional Democrats and public health officials.
In a statement, Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said, “Testing, tracing, treatment and social distancing are the only tools we have to stop the spread of the coronavirus, but President Donald Trump orders his Administration to slow down the testing that saves lives.
“The President’s efforts to slow down desperately needed testing to hide the true extent of the virus mean more Americans will lose their lives.”
Amesh Adalja, an infectious-disease expert at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security stated, “Looking at it as a scoreboard is the wrong way to think about it. To think of it as something you can manipulate or slow down based on what the numbers look like speaks to a complete misunderstanding of what an infectious-disease response should be.”
As of June 23, the US remains the worst-hit nation by the pandemic, surpassing 2.3 million cases and 120,000 deaths.
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