WASHINGTON -- Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar is urging Americans to stick with safeguards against COVID-19 such as mask-wearing even as President Donald Trump continues to shun the practice and infections spike higher in several parts of the U.S.
Azar told NBC’s “Meet the Press” on Sunday that many people may be feeling “mitigation fatigue” from a seven-month-old pandemic, but there is “much promise in the weeks and months ahead” with the expected arrival of safe and effective vaccines.
His comments came as Trump has been holding campaign rallies in which face masks were not required and many people at the events were not wearing them. Coronavirus infections are spiking in Europe and public health officials are raising alarm that the infection rate in the U.S. is climbing toward a new peak.
Azar asked people to “hang in there” because “we are so close.” He said the continued practice of safety guidelines of washing hands, social distancing and wearing masks will be a “bridge” to the day vaccines can become widely available.
Most patients with COVID-19 have mild to moderate symptoms. However, in a small proportion of patients, COVID-19 can lead to more severe illness, including death, particularly among those who are older or those who have chronic medical conditions.
COVID-19 spreads primarily through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes.
Symptoms include fever, cough, and difficulty breathing. Symptoms appear within 14 days of being exposed to an infectious person.
Virginia health officials urged the following precautions:
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
- Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer only if soap and water are not available.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when coughing or sneezing.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.
- Stay home when you are sick.
- Avoid contact with sick people.
- Avoid non-essential travel.