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US Health Officials Testify About White House Coronavirus Response

By VOA News June 23, 2020

Top U.S. public health officials are testifying before a congressional panel Tuesday as parts of the country grapple with a surge in new confirmed coronavirus cases and hospitalizations.

Among those speaking to lawmakers on the House Energy and Commerce Committee about the Trump administration's response to the crisis are Dr. Anthony Fauci, head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, as well as Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Dr. Robert Redfield, Food and Drug Administration chief Dr. Stephen Hahn, and Adm. Brett Giroir, head of the U.S. Public Health Service.

Fauci is among the health experts saying people should not be focused on a second wave of the virus in the United States because the country has not yet emerged from its first wave.

Many states are in the process of loosening restrictions put in place to stop the spread of the virus, despite spikes in infections in about half of the 50 U.S. states.

U.S. President Donald Trump tweeted Tuesday that coronavirus infections are rising in the U.S., the world leader in coronavirus cases, "because we are testing far more than any other country, and ever expanding."

Trump said at a campaign rally Saturday in Tulsa, Oklahoma, that he asked his administration to slow down testing because more testing would reveal more cases. White House officials have since tried walk back his comments, maintaining they were not meant to be taken seriously.

Texas Governor Greg Abbott said Monday that re-imposing restrictions would only be done as a last resort, while saying the virus was spreading at an "unacceptable rate" and declining to impose an order to mandate the use of masks in public. Texas has set daily records for new infections for nearly two weeks as its hospitalization rates climbed.

Neighboring Louisiana surpassed 3,000 deaths due to COVID-19, and with a rise in cases there as well Governor John Bel Edwards said he would keep in place the current limitations that were set to expire Friday.

Hospitalization rates have also surged in Georgia, while the number of confirmed cases is rising in more than a dozen states. The country now has more than 120,000 deaths and 2.3 million cases.

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