At a press briefing in Washington on Friday, Vice President Mike Pence said the White House coronavirus task force had identified 16 states — about one-third of all states in the nation — where COVID-19 cases are on the rise.
According to Pence, in the other 34 states, there is a "measure of "stability" among cases — saying that while these states may experience new cases, "positivity rates are stable."
Pence said that most of the states with rising cases are in the "Sun Belt." He said that he and other health officials would travel to Arizona, Florida and Texas — three states experiencing severe spikes in cases — next week, to meet with governors.
The task force reported that a majority of new cases have been reported in people younger than 34 — a development that Pence called "encouraging" in some ways because young people are more likely to recover from the virus.
According to Pence, there have been 2.5 million confirmed cases of the virus in the U.S. According to Johns Hopkins, there are about 4,425,000 confirmed cases of the virus.
During Friday's briefing, Dr. Anthony Fauci — America's top expert on infectious diseases — said that some areas of the country as facing a "serious problem" amid rising numbers. He added that Americans have a "societal responsibility" to continue social distancing, adding that those who leave their home for crowded places become part of an infectious chain.
"Ultimately, you will infect someone who is vulnerable," Fauci said.
The task force and President Donald Trump held near-daily briefings throughout March and April. But the nation's top health experts have rarely appeared on-camera in recent weeks as the administration has focused on re-starting the economy.
The briefing comes a day after Johns Hopkins reported 40,000 new cases of the novel coronavirus, the highest single-day increase since the pandemic began. President Donald Trump has maintained that the increase in cases is the result of increased testing capacity, but the CDC reports hospitalizations linked to the virus are also on the rise.
It also comes following a week of confusing messaging regarding the administration's policy on testing. On Saturday at a rally in Oklahoma, Trump told supporters that he asked that testing be "slowed down" to deflate new case numbers artificially. On Monday, press secretary Kayleigh McEnany said Trump made those comments "in jest," but Trump quickly contradicted her, saying he "doesn't kid." Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation's top infectious disease expert, later testified at a House committee hearing that he had not been told by anyone in the administration to slow down testing, and that increasing testing capacity remains the goal of the task force.
Several states that were quick to lift lockdown restrictions are now moving to re-impose social distancing measures. On Friday, Texas ordered the closure of bars and re-imposed limits on in-restaurant dining. Also on Friday, Florida ordered that bars can no longer serve alcohol on-site as cases continue to spike.