The United States is facing a “serious problem” as southern and western states experience a surge in coronavirus cases, leading government expert Dr. 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.
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"So people are infecting other people, and then ultimately you will infect someone who's vulnerable," Fauci said. "And that may be 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 responsiblity" to do so -- but did not mention the wearing of masks.
As new coronavirus cases surged in Texas and Florida, officials in both states on Friday ordered bars to once again close down and imposed tighter restrictions on restaurants, in a setback to efforts to open up their economies during the pandemic.
Governor Greg Abbott gave bars in Texas until midday Friday to close down, while Florida's Department of Business and Professional Regulation told bars to immediately stop serving alcohol on their premises.
The announcements marked a major step back by both states - two of the largest and early drivers in attempts to re-open the economy - and an acknowledgement that infection figures had grown too worrisome to stand pat. Florida on Friday announced a startling 8,942 new COVID-19 cases.
That number was a leap from Florida's previous record of 5,511 new daily cases, reached on June 24. Total U.S. cases rose 40,751 on Thursday, a record daily increase.
The attempts by Texas, Florida, South Carolina and other states at a more complete economic reopening have boomeranged in a resurgence of cases that is changing the nature of the pandemic and likely to test the strength of any broader economic rebound in the United States.
Pence welcomed the steps taken by officials in Texas and said the Administration fully supported the decisions.