CNN  — 

The nation’s top infectious disease expert on Friday urged governors and mayors to “be as forceful as possible” to get people to wear face coverings.

Social distancing, an important factor in blunting the spread of coronavirus, can be difficult with more people going out, Dr. Anthony Fauci said.

“When you’re living your life and trying to open up the country, you are going to come into contact with people. And for that reason, we know that masks are really important, and we should be using them everywhere,” he said during a US Chamber of Commerce virtual event.

Americans are actually slowing down the re-opening the country by not wearing a mask, said Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

He said he respects the “spirit of independence in our country,” but says this is different.

People need to understand that we are in a very serious situation that necessitates communities pulling together, he said.

“If we could get more people to understand that, hopefully we’ll get more people who’d be willing to wear masks.”

He said he would “urge the leaders – the local political and other leaders – in states and cities and towns to be as forceful as possible in getting your citizenry to wear masks.”

The country needs to concentrate on the problems at hand and not worry about a second wave, he said.

“When you’re having up to 70,000 new infections … that’s something you need to focus on right now, as opposed to looking at what’s going to happen in September or October,” he said.

There were 77,255 new cases reported Thursday, topping a previous high set two days ago, according to Johns Hopkins University. On Friday, the World Health Organization’s situation report said there were a record 237,743 new Covid-19 cases reported to agency in the past 24 hours.

Top doctor feels good about potential treatments

The director of the National Institutes of Health, Dr. Francis Collins, said he’s “optimistic” an “effective treatment” for Covid-19 will be available in two to three months.

“There is a lot of progress in therapeutics,” Collins told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer. “We have two proven drugs – remdesivir and dexamethasone, both proven in rigorous randomized control trials, which is the only way you really know if something works.”

Remdesivir is an antiviral drug that has been shown to reduce the amount of time people are ill with Covid-19. Dexamethasone is a steroid that may reduce the rate of deaths among seriously ill patients.

“I’m optimistic, without being able to be confident completely, that we’ll have something maybe as soon as two or three months from now, in terms of an effective treatment.”