Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar, on Thursday, said he did not see another shutdown happening during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
Azar noted on Fox News Channel’s “America’s Newsroom” that only a small percentage of counties in the United States are considered “hotspots” at this time, but he stressed the importance of protecting the elderly and those more prone to be sick as economies open back up.
“I don’t [see another shutdown], although you will see local community mitigation steps depending on circumstances,” Azar stated. “As I said, the hotspots are in 3% of American counties. About 110 counties right now are the ones that we are focused on. We can get back to work, back-to-school, back to worship, and more importantly, back to health care if we act responsibly as individuals. If we keep in mind, what are our individual vulnerabilities? You know, most of the fatalities in severe cases are in individuals 80 years or older, or 65 years of age and older with … diabetes, obesity, renal failure or lung disease. These are the people that have to be really protected, ringfenced, protected. The rest of us obviously should take sensible precautions. None of us want to get this disease, but we have to protect those individuals. We can get back to work. We can practice social distancing. We can wear face masks if we can’t practice social distancing.”
Azar also shared his optimism for a coronavirus vaccine by 2021.
“I am optimistic given the president’s leadership here,” he advised. “We are devoting tremendous resources to ensure that we reduce any unnecessary delay in developing a safe and effective vaccine, but also importantly, we’re manufacturing hundreds of millions of doses of vaccine at risk so that they will be ready if a vaccine is approved by the FDA. So, tens of millions by this fall, hundreds of millions by early next year.”
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