WASHINGTON, D.C. (NBC) – A new federal report has added more states to the list of “red zones,” urging leaders to impose more restrictions to slow down COVID-19.
Health officials say far too many gatherings and parties are happening with blatant disregard for safety regulations as the national death toll surpasses 150,000.
Wednesday morning, 21 states are now in the so-called “red zone” for their rapid rate of transmission, according to a federal report first obtained by the New York Times.
And now, as President Trump urges more states to reopen, top officials on the White House coronavirus task force are now urging some statewide mask mandates.
In audio obtained by the Daily Beast, Dr. Deborah Birx told governors, “By the time you see hospitalizations, your community spread is so wide that you’ve flipped into a red state incredibly quickly.”
NBC News has not verified the audio and has reached out to the White House for comment.
Doctors on the front lines say the fight against COVID is being undermined by Americans who refuse to wear masks and ignore social distancing.
Dr. Ivan Melendez with the Hidalgo County Health Authority said, “You see that all these deaths are preventable. They’re preventable and people just don’t pay attention and that’s extremely frustrating.”
It comes amid new concerns over kids going back to school. Dr. Anthony Fauci gave this answer when asked what teachers need to do to return safely during a Q and A with teacher union leaders overnight: “the minimal would be the mask and eye goggles if you can have it and possibly gloves, but washing your hands frequently having Purel there if you don’t have a sink nearby is as good as wearing gloves.”
That advice comes as the country’s second-largest teachers’ union says it will support its 1.7 million members if they choose to strike in districts that reopen without adequate health and safety measures.
Teacher Stacey Pusz said, “Do I wanna get back into school? Absolutely. But we need to be able to do that in a safe environment.”