Health Secretary Alex Azar blamed a rise in US coronavirus cases on “mitigation fatigue,” and he said he wished more seniors had worn masks at an indoor event President Trump held in Fort Myers, Florida, on Friday.
“Cases are increasing,” Azar acknowledged on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” “We’re seeing this happen because we’re getting colder weather and were losing that natural social distancing that happens from being out of doors.”
“People are getting tired,” he added. “We’re seeing mitigation fatigue right now.”
Azar encouraged people to continue to adhere to guidelines about face coverings, hand-washing and maintaining social distance in an effort to create what he described as a “bridge” to the time when a vaccine and treatments become available.
“Be mindful of those indoor household gatherings,” he said. “Just because you’re related to someone or friends with someone doesn’t mean you can’t transmit.”
Trump has frequently held large gatherings, in defiance of the wishes of local officials, where social distancing does not happen and people do not wear masks. Many, but not all, are outdoors.
Pressed on Trump’s indoor event in Fort Myers, which Azar attended, the health secretary argued masks were provided and social distancing was attempted.
“I wish everybody there would’ve worn face coverings and maintained social distancing,” he said.
Azar said herd immunity regarding coronavirus — when a percentage of people have become sick and achieved immunity thereby protecting the rest of the population — is not the current policy of the administration.
“No, that’s not our policy. It’s a desire through vaccination to get to herd immunity,” he said. “The desire is reduce cases, reduce cases, reduce hospitalizations, reduce fatalities.”
He added it was the overall goal of the administration to achieve that in the future once there is large distribution of a vaccine which will protect most people.