Larry Kudlow dismisses fears of ‘second wave’ as US cases jump
Larry Kudlow, the top White House economic official, says the US will not suffer a “second wave” outbreak of coronavirus even as several states in the south and west reported a surge in new cases.
Mr Kudlow’s comments came as 29 states and US territories reported an increase in the seven-day average of new confirmed cases, suggesting the country has not yet put a stop to the first wave of the virus.
The biggest rises are occurring in southern and western states that have quickly reopened their economies, including Arizona, Florida, Georgia and South Carolina. Some western states that have taken a more cautious approach to reopening, such as California and Washington, are also experiencing an increase in cases.
In Arizona, the coronavirus case count has almost doubled in 14 days. Health officials in the state reported 2,196 new cases on Monday, taking the total to 54,586, compared with about 27,000 on June 7.
California reported 4,515 new cases on Sunday — the biggest one-day jump since March — and another 4,230 on Monday, taking its statewide total to 173,824.
Florida, Georgia and Texas also reported more than 2,000 new cases on Monday, with Mississippi hitting a new record at 1,646. All told, the US had 27,928 new cases over a 24-hour period on Monday, the fifth straight day of an increase of more than 25,000.
Greg Abbott, the Texas governor, acknowledged that coronavirus was spreading through the state at an “unacceptable rate” and “it must be corralled”.
At a Monday press conference, he sought to assure residents the state’s hospitals were prepared to deal with any rise in patients, and urged people to practice physical distancing or wear face coverings to help limit the spread of the disease and said that closing down Texas again was “always the last option”.
Mr Kudlow dismissed the rising case counts as “just hotspots” that would be managed by teams of officials dispatched to the states by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“There is no second wave coming,” he told CNBC television on Monday. “We’ve got the testing procedures, we’ve got the diagnostics, we’ve got the [personal protective equipment]. And so I really think it’s a pretty good situation.”
Mr Kudlow’s confidence appeared to contradict comments from Peter Navarro, a top White House trade adviser, who on Sunday said the administration was preparing for a possible second wave.
“We are filling the stockpile in anticipation of a possible problem in the fall,” Mr Navarro told the news channel CNN on Sunday. “We are doing everything we can beneath the surface. I’m not saying it’s going to happen, but of course you prepare.”
The White House has dismissed the rising case count as a product of increased testing. On Saturday, Donald Trump, president, told a rally of his supporters that he had asked officials to “slow the testing down”, although Mr Navarro later said the president’s remarks were intended to be “tongue in cheek”.
However, public health experts said the rising case counts were not a result of increased testing alone, pointing to a higher proportion of positive test results and a jump in hospitalisations in some states.
Texas reported that 3,711 people were in hospital with coronavirus on Monday, an almost 200 per cent increase compared with the start of April, when the state first started publishing hospitalisation data.
Anthony Fauci, one of the top advisers on the White House coronavirus task force, told the Financial Times he was “very worried” about the “sunbelt states”, including Texas, Florida, and Arizona, and their ability to handle increased case counts.
Eric Toner, a senior scholar at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, also warned that the virus was now spreading in more rural communities, which do not have the state of the art hospitals found in places such as New York City.
“It is just as stressful for patients and hospitals as it was in New York City, just on a much smaller scale,” he said. “They don’t have the resources, specialists and technology that exist in the very large hospitals of New York City.”
Rising case counts have not yet resulted in a similarly dramatic rise in deaths, in part because increasing transmission rates appear to be being driven by younger people.
US states reported 285 new coronavirus fatalities on Monday, according to the Covid Tracking Project, down from 297 the day before and the lowest tally since March 25.
However, public health experts warn rising case counts could eventually lead to higher mortality rates if younger people pass the virus on to the elderly and patients with underlying health conditions.
Additional reporting by Hannah Kuchler in New York and Donato Mancini in London