Covid-19 has “brought this nation to its knees,” Dr. Robert Redfield, director of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said Tuesday.
The country is probably going to spend about $7 trillion “because of one little virus,” Redfield said during a House Energy and Commerce Committee hearing.
“We’ve all done the best that we can do to tackle this virus.”
Redfield’s comments were made as half of US states are seeing spikes in new coronavirus cases — and it’s not just due to increased testing, health officials say.
As of Tuesday, 25 states have recorded higher rates of new cases compared to last week: Arizona, California, Colorado, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Kansas, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin and Wyoming.
And no state has effectively transitioned from stay-at-home orders “to a public health model of testing, tracking, isolating and quarantining,” said Dr. Richard Besser, former acting director of the US CDC.
“We have to figure out how to make that transition in a successful way, or every state that reopens — even those that have done a really good job at tamping this down — are going to see pretty dramatic rises,” Besser told CNN Tuesday.
“And we’re going to end up back to where we were.”
If the U.S. doesn’t get control of the coronavirus pandemic by fall, “you’re essentially chasing after a forest fire,” Dr. Anthony Fauci told the House committee Tuesday.
The goal would be to get complete control of the virus instead of just mitigating it, which is happening now, said Fauci, who is director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.
Redfield said the virus has highlighted decades of underinvesting in the “core capabilities of public health data.” Now is the time to fix the broken system, he added.
“This needs to be a partnership. It’s not all the burden of the federal government to invest in public health at the local level,” Redfield said. In reality, “if your funding of CDC was to go away tomorrow, public health infrastructure across this nation would just crash.”
“We’re right now the backbone of it.”
Nationwide, more than 2.3 million people have been infected with coronavirus, and almost 121,000 have died, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.
“The next couple of weeks are going to be critical in our ability to address those surgings that we’re seeing in Florida, in Texas, in Arizona and in other states — they’re not the only ones having difficulty,” Fauci said.
During Fauci’s testimony in Tuesday’s hearing, the nation’s top infectious disease expert made a plea to all Americans:
“Plan A: Don’t go in a crowd. Plan B: If you do, make sure you wear a mask.”