Former CDC director doubles down on importance of masks and social distancing

A top health expert warns US needs a “comprehensive approach” to the Covid-19 pandemic, following a week of several states reporting alarming trends.



a group of people standing on a lush green field: NEW YORK, NEW YORK - SEPTEMBER 26: People with and without masks gather in Sheep Meadow, Central Park as the city continues Phase 4 of re-opening following restrictions imposed to slow the spread of coronavirus on September 26, 2020 in New York City. The fourth phase allows outdoor arts and entertainment, sporting events without fans and media production. (Photo by Alexi Rosenfeld/Getty Images)


© Alexi Rosenfeld/Getty Images
NEW YORK, NEW YORK – SEPTEMBER 26: People with and without masks gather in Sheep Meadow, Central Park as the city continues Phase 4 of re-opening following restrictions imposed to slow the spread of coronavirus on September 26, 2020 in New York City. The fourth phase allows outdoor arts and entertainment, sporting events without fans and media production. (Photo by Alexi Rosenfeld/Getty Images)

“Testing does not replace safety measures including consistent mask use, physical distancing, and hand washing,” Dr. Tom Frieden, the former director of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said Friday.

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His remarks came as a response to the President’s and the first lady’s positive Covid-19 tests. Their diagnoses, Frieden said, serve as “a reminder that Covid-19 is an ongoing threat to our country and can happen to anyone.”

Twenty-four states saw their number of new cases rise at least 10% this week from the week before, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.

The county’s seven-day average of new daily cases — about 42,400 — is more than 20% higher than where it was September 12, when it was at two-month low of about 34,300.

It’s still below a summer peak of roughly 67,000 from July — but health officials have said even daily cases in the 40,000s are far too high if the country wants to avoid a dangerous surge in the coming months, when cold weather will nudge people indoors more often.

Worrying trends across US

In many states, local and state leaders are reporting worrying milestones.

Kentucky on Friday recorded its second-highest number of cases reported in one day, at 999.

And that caps weeks of increases: Its seven-day average of new cases — more than 800 on Friday — is well above the 500s and 600s of early to mid-September, Johns Hopkins data show.

“This week is going to shatter last week’s record for number of cases,” Gov. Andy Beshear said Friday. “The situation is getting very dangerous in Kentucky.”

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced this week the state was facing a “cluster situation” with about 20 zip codes — many of them in New York City — reporting high positivity rates. That comes as thousands of students in New York City returned to schools.

And in Wisconsin, which reported on Wednesday its highest one-day Covid-19 death count — 27 — Gov. Tony Evers this week urged residents not to try and “live like we’re back to the way things used to be.”

Video: 26 states see increases in coronavirus cases (CNN)

26 states see increases in coronavirus cases

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But other US communities pushed further into reopening. Florida cleared the way for bars and restaurants to fully reopen. Mississippi lifted its mask mandate. In California, several counties moved into less restrictive tiers of the state’s reopening

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