FILE PHOTO: U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar speaks during a news briefing on the administration’s response to the coronavirus at the White House in Washington, U.S., March 15, 2020. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts/File Photo
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Authorities are not seeing spikes in coronavirus cases in places that are reopening but are seeing increases in some areas that remain closed, U.S. health secretary Alex Azar said on Sunday.
“We are seeing that in places that are opening, we’re not seeing this spike in cases,” Azar said on CNN’s “State of the Union” program. “We still see spikes in some areas that are in fact close to very localized situations.”
Azar put the onus on reopening struggles on local governments.
“These are very localized determinations. There should not be a one size fits all to reopening but reopen we must because it’s not health versus the economy. It’s health versus healthy,” he said, adding there were serious health consequences to not reopening.
Asked about images being broadcast from some areas of the country showing people gathering near bars and congregating close together, Azar said that was the cost of freedom.
“I think in any individual instance you’re going to see people doing things that are irresponsible. That’s part of the freedom that we have here in America,” he said on CNN.
(This story was refiled to fix typo in first paragraph)
Reporting by Doina Chiacu; Editing by Lisa Shumaker