Dr. Jen Ashton talks US handling of COVID-19 and preventing its spread

ABC News' chief medical correspondent discussed the rise in hospitalizations and the outlook of the pandemic with ABC News contributor Dr. Darien Sutton and "Nightline" co-anchor Juju Chang.
4:40 | 07/07/20

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Transcript for Dr. Jen Ashton talks US handling of COVID-19 and preventing its spread
to contain it in the summertime. Earlier today, I spoke to Dr. Jen Ashton and Dr. Darrian Sutton. Dr. Jen, give us the overview on why we're having such a tough time controlling the outbreak, compared to other countries? I think it's important to realize the United States is unlike any other country in many ways. We're geographically diverse, and we have a different health care infrastructure. Sometimes better, sometimes worse. It's really important to remember that the general consensus among public health officials is that those confirmed cases literally just represent the tip of the iceberg. We heard the CDC director say he thinks it could easily be ten times that many cases here in the U.S. And the reason why we're having trouble controlling the virus, the virus is sneaky, it's very transmissible, and it can spread in all types of environments. It's been proven a challenge, to say the least. Dr. Sutton, you're an E.R. Doctor on the front lines. What do you think needs to be done to get the rates down? Yes, juju. I noticed there is a difference in messaging sometimes, depending on what people feel is appropriate with regards to social distancing and wearing a mask. So we need a clear, concise universal messaging. Wearing a mask and social distancing can help. And it's not too little, too late, when it comes to masks? I don't think it's too little, to late. I think we're still in the middle of stage one of the pandemic. I try to encourage people that any difference helps. I don't believe it's too little, too late. Dr. Jen, you mentioned transmissibility. Covid is muting slightly, how do we help stop the spread? When people hear that the virus is mutating, and it's more airborne, that can make people feel anxious. Viruses mutate for a living. Some are neutral, some make it weaker. But as you stated, there is some evidence that a recent mutation has made the virus more transmissible. So it's about how large a particle, how long it can last in the air. It's smaller, lighter, can travel farther. And the precautions become even more important, the distance, and wearing masks. And I want to get your thoughts on president trump's comments over the weekend. Saying it's 99% harmless. But that doesn't align with the facts of how covid is hitting Not only does it not align with the data as we have it right now. Right now the U.S. Fatality rate is about 4.8%, which is a we still don't know the exact fatality rate. But for people who have lost loved ones to covid-19, I don't think they're brushing it off. And in medicine, I have a saying, something only has to happen once. If it happens to you and it's serious, it's a problem. And I think right now, the virus has shown we need to take it seriously for sure. Dr. Jen Ashton and Dr. Sutton, thank you to you both. Thank you. Up next, the little girl changing the world by sharing the healing power of art.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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