National Institute of Health Dr. Anthony Fauci pleaded with young Americans who have recently tested positive for the novel coronavirus, urging them to follow safety guidelines and “be part of the solution” not “part of the problem.”
Fauci and members of the White House Coronavirus Task Force delivered their first briefing in more than a month Friday, as the number of positive COVID-19 cases surge in states across the nation — particularly for individuals under the age of 35.
“A risk for you is not just isolated for you,” Fauci warned young people Friday. “You are innocently and inadvertently propagating the process of a pandemic.”
He added: “The chances are that if you get infected, you’re going to infect someone else.”
Fauci went on to note that “the overwhelming majority” of new cases in the last several weeks are “young people.”
“Likely the people out in crowds, enjoying themselves—no blame there—understandably,” Fauci said. “But when you do that, you are part of a process. When you get infected, you will infect someone else who will infect someone else and ultimately you will infect someone who is vulnerable.”
“You have an individual responsibility to yourself, but a societal responsibility, because if we want to end this outbreak and really end it, and hopefully when a vaccine comes and puts the nail in the coffin, we’ve got to realize that we are part of the process,” Fauci continued.
He added: “We can either be part of the solution or part of the problem…so I just want to plea with people, as we try to tackle [the virus.]”
Vice President Pence on Friday also weighed in, noting that the task force, for the last two months, has been focused on partnering with states “to save lives and safely reopen.”
“As the president has made clear, we want to open our economy up and we want to move America forward even while we continue to take steps necessary to help the American people,” Pence said.
But the task force officials applauded young Americans for being willing to get tested while noting that the age group “is much more likely to be asymptomatic.”
“The fact that we are finding younger Americans who have been infected is a good thing,” Pence said. “As we know so far, younger Americans are less susceptible…the coronavirus does not represent as significant a threat for a younger American.”
Pence added that “none of us, though, would want to bring the disease back to our parents, grandparents, moms and dads…or a friend who has an immunodeficiency,” and encouraged all Americans to “follow safety guidelines for all phases.”
“These are guidelines for all the phases and they are good practices,” Pence said, while touting states like New York, Connecticut, New Jersey and New Orleans, La., for getting a handle on the outbreak in their regions, and have seen a continued decline in positive new cases of COVID-19.
“That was a result of the American people stepping forward,” Pence said.
The briefing Friday came as states across the U.S. hit another all-time high in new cases. On Thursday, the U.S. reported an additional 39,061 positive cases of COVID-19. The previous high was recorded just one day prior at 38,706 confirmed infections nationwide, according to the COVID Tracking Project.
California, Arizona, Texas and Florida are among the states that have been hit particularly hard in recent days.
Texas reported 5,996 daily new cases and 47 more deaths on Thursday, while Arizona tallied 3,056 new cases and 27 additional deaths. Arizona’s rate of cases per 100,000 people stands around 877. Meanwhile, Florida health officials reported 5,004 new cases and 46 deaths on Thursday.
Utah recorded its second-highest daily number of new cases Thursday at 590 since the pandemic began.
Officials from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in a Thursday conference call with reporters noted most of the cases are stemming from younger populations.
For every COVID-19 case reported, 10 additional infections likely went unannounced, according to the CDC’s best estimates.
Meanwhile, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy, and Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont announced Wednesday that they would impose a 14-day quarantine for individuals traveling from states seeing an increase in positive COVID-19 cases.
According to the three governors, individuals who do not voluntarily quarantine and follow the restrictions would be subject to fines between $2,000 to $10,000.
Those restrictions apply to South Carolina, North Carolina, Florida, Texas, Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, Washington and Utah.
The criteria for states that have a high infection rate are 10 infections per 100,000 residents on a seven-day rolling average or 10 percent of the state’s total population infected on a seven-day rolling average, according to Cuomo.
As of Friday, the U.S. reported more than 2.4 million positive cases of COVID-19 since the pandemic began, and has lost more than 124,500 lives.
Fox News’ Kayla Rivas and The Associated Press contributed to this report.