As state officials across the country grapple to contain a recent surge in cases of the novel coronavirus, at least one expert with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) warned the U.S. has “way too much virus” to control at the moment.
Dr. Anne Schuchat, principal deputy director of CDC, made the warning during a Monday interview with The Journal of the American Medical Association, saying that the situation in the U.S. is not like that in other countries, using New Zealand and South Korea as primary examples.
“We’re not in the situation of New Zealand or Singapore or Korea where a new case is rapidly identified and all the contacts are traced and people are isolated who are sick and people who are exposed are quarantined and they can keep things under control,” Schuchat said in a podcast. “We have way too much virus across the country for that right now, so it’s very discouraging.”
Indeed, New Zealand on June 8 announced that the last known infected person had recovered, with officials declaring the country virus-free at that time. Since then, a few cases of COVID-19 linked to international travelers have emerged, though officials have been able to contain the infections.
Cases in South Korea have also remained low, with the country reporting fewer than 100 cases per day since April, according to the BBC.
Meanwhile, the U.S. has had more than 2.5 million illnesses and at least 126,141 deaths. States including Arizona, California, Florida and Texas have paused or backtracked their reopening plans as the number of confirmed coronavirus cases has soared.
In Arizona, for example, health officials reported 3,858 more confirmed coronavirus cases Sunday, the most reported in a single day in the state so far, and the seventh time in the past 10 days that daily cases surpassed 3,000.
“This is really the beginning,” Schuchat continued. “I think there was a lot of wishful thinking around the country that, ‘Hey it’s summer. Everything’s going to be fine.’ We’re over this and we are not even beginning to be over this. There are a lot of worrisome factors about the last week or so.
“What we have in the United States, it’s hard to describe because it’s so many different outbreaks,” Schuchat continued. “There was a wave of incredible acceleration, intense interventions and control measures that have brought things down to a much lower level of circulation in the New York City, Connecticut, New Jersey area. But in much of the rest of the country, there’s still a lot of virus. And in lots of places, there’s more virus circulating than there was.”
Schuchat added that Americans should “expect this virus to continue to circulate.”
Fox News’s Samuel Chamberlain contributed to this report.