Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said on “Fox & Friends” on Wednesday that the United States is "learning from Hong Kong and Singapore and China” on how to handle the new coronavirus outbreak.
Azar, who has been appointed by President Trump to lead a coronavirus task force, added that the novel coronavirus is “tricky” because of the fact that it appears to be “asymptomatic.”
He went on to say that people who become infected do not typically see symptoms for an average of about 5.2 days “and there may be some ability to spread the virus even when you don't have those symptoms.”
“That makes it quite a difficult virus to deal with, but that's why we’re in favor of aggressive measures,” Azar said.
“We’re working with Washington, California, New York, Massachusetts, Florida and giving them advice on aggressive steps to take to mitigate spread.”
The total amount of coronavirus cases in the U.S. surpassed 1,000 on Tuesday night, with the virus officially being reported in all but 12 states.
Various events have been canceled throughout the country as health officials warn about attending large-scale gatherings. At least 28 deaths have been reported.
“We’re going to see more of these cases. We’ve been very clear from the outset. We’ll see more cases in the United States,” Azar said on Wednesday. “There’s literally no way that the United States, as the center of the global economy, is immune from this.”
He also discussed the “aggressive measures” that are being implemented to try to mitigate any impact across the country.
“We’re working at our borders to contain the inflow of the disease,” Azar said.
He added, “What we are doing under President Trump’s very strong leadership is slowing traffic into the United States, slowing spread into the United States, and then working with places like Washington, New York, Massachusetts, Florida, California to mitigate the impacts, avoiding large social gatherings, appropriate closures of schools, steps like that.”
Azar went to explain that those steps are important to protect “those most vulnerable to this disease, those are our very elderly and those who are medically fragile.”
Host Steve Doocy noted that some people are experiencing seasonal allergies as coronavirus is spreading and asked Azar “at what point do you go to your doctor … to figure out what's the matter,” he answered, “I would always encourage that you call first.”
“When we’re in this virus spreading phase, call your doctor's office, your clinic or your hospital so you follow their protocols so you don't accidentally go in and if you do have, God forbid, the novel coronavirus, you spread that,” he said.
He added, “Listen to your body. You know what's regular in terms of your symptoms and you know what you’re used to and you know what's unusual and if something feels unusual, call your doctor's office, call your clinic and ask about that.”
Azar noted that there is a “surplus of the supply” of testing kits in the country.
“We have always had the capacity and the capability to test any individual that any public health official believes needed to be tested for novel coronavirus,” he said on Wednesday. “That's always been the case. We’re just making it much more convenient and localized for doctors and patients to get testing. That's there now.”
Azar noted that “most respiratory illnesses you see some decline or a lot of decline in warmer weather.”
He said that happens in part because people spend more time outdoors.
“We’re distanced from each other, that helps to slow the spread,” Azar noted. “Every day that we can buy time is a valuable potential day.”
“You’re going to hear from CDC [Centers of Disease Control and Prevention] today and the White House that we’re going to be making recommendations to those local communities about aggressive steps that we think they should be taking and we’ve been collaborating closely with them on that,” he continued.
Fox News’ David Aaro contributed to this report.