'There is no such thing as a harmless case of COVID-19': Dr. Patrice Harris

Tom Bossert and Dr. Patrice Harris are interviewed on "This Week."
7:45 | 07/05/20

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Transcript for 'There is no such thing as a harmless case of COVID-19': Dr. Patrice Harris
I'm very concerned that I'm not satisfied with what's going on, because we're going in wrong direction. We can't focus on those areas that are having the surge. It puts the entire country at risk. We're now having 40,000-plus thousand cases a new day, I wouldn't be surprised if we go up to 100,000 cases a day if this doesn't turn around. Dr. Anthony Fauci. 'S stark warning to congress this week about the worsening pandemic. Joining me now to help make sense of it is ABC news contributor Tom Bossert and Dr. Patrice Harris. Welcome to you both. Tom, I want to start with you. You've been so wise tracking this pandemic over these last few months. First, I want your reaction to what Dr. Hahn said. Well, you know, with respect to the second half of Dr. Hahn's interview, I completely agree that the fda is going to do everything that it can to make for a safe vaccine for this virus. The first half, he ducked the question. It's absolutely irrefutable -- I thought your question was spot-on. The answer is obvious, this is not harmless. This virus -- in fact for anything to happen at this stage, whether it be a mild form of mitigation or a suppression level strategy, the country has to know that this is a dangerous virus. We have to start at the basics and level with people. Suggesting that it's not dangerous is in and of itself a dangerous message. And Tom, what's different about this spike, or more worrisome than the ones in new York and New Jersey? The sheer numbers. What we saw in the northeast, among a population of 39 million people when you add Connecticut, New York, New Jersey and the populations together, you end up with about 39 million. We're talking about 90 million in just three of the states we covered this morning. Florida, Texas, and Arizona. If you add California, here's 39 57bd -- and change, if you add California, here's the perspective, we are now as a country adding a Wuhan a day to the case totals of this world. Wuhan collectively cumulatively had as many cases in its entire history as this country posted on Wednesday in one day last week and the next week or two we'll get to a level where we add a new China a day. Dr. Harris, I want your comments about Dr. Hahn as well. What you're seeing in these hot spots and how hospitals can cope with that. Well, certainly, I'm glad that Dr. Hahn made it clear that any vaccine considered would include both safety and efficacy as the metrics. We need to make sure we know -- we already have a problem with vaccine hesitancy in this country, so that's an important message. Also, as a physician, there is no such thing as a harmless case of covid-19, even if you're fortunate enough not to have the symptoms. You can spread it to others. We've seen that particularly among those who are younger and if you spread it to others, we know what happens. We know the tragic consequences of death. And we're seeing many folks who have recovered who are continuing to suffer lingering effects, so we are in a place where these -- the virus is surging in some areas and we certainly need a federal coordinated approach to this and leadership. We all have a part to play but we need leadership to address the surges now but to be prepared for future surges. Dr. Harris, Americans have gotten a lot of conflicting guidance even from the CDC, over the past few months, first, you don't need masks. That was probably largely in part because healthcare workers needed them. Now, if you can do it, how about this mixed messaging and are masks required now because we have learned they worked? So, certainly Thi a new coronavirus and our knowledge is evolving and growing and at the nning, we were thinking that we didn't need to wear masks but the data is clear at this point in time. Masks or face coverings should be worn by everyone. They are an important tool in the toolbox right now, as Dr. Hahn mentioned therapeutics are getting better. Wearing masks. Staying six feet apart. Washing our hands. Hand sanitization. Tom, the president this week did say he had no objection to wearing a mask but we haven't seen him wear one, is that an important message? Or is it really too late? Well, you know, it's too late in some places. I was very encouraged to hear the president's change in rhetoric on masks. Or at least clarification on where he stands. But I will tell you, though, if you look at this in a macro sense as a country, which he's doing as the president, you're seeing death numbers go down but if you look at, you know, if you don't aggregate or manipulate these numbers and you look at these numbers in Florida, Texas, Arizona and California, you see the death numbers starting to go up. So what he should be doing is worrying about those other interventions. Mask is one layer. One layer whether it's mask or another one don't alone suffice. Martha, I've run the numbers here in Florida and in Arizona and in Texas, Florida just posted north of 11,000 cases yesterday. In the last two weeks, since June 19th, Florida has had 100,000 new cases, those people if you assume two weeks here, are still infectious, depending on how you do this. Assuming how many cases they're as certaining. There's a solid reason to believe there are 500,000 people in Florida right now, today, infectious. That's over 2% of their population. Masks alone won't cut it. We need to make sure those people are isolated. We need to make sure those people they come into contact with are quarantined. If you don't understand how you find out, we'll have a hard time. Florida has exceeded an ember level, exceeded a small fire on a stove analogy. This fire has succeeded in Florida into something much larger. Dr. Harris, very quickly if you will, a message to young people -- young people are gathering in large groups. We just have a few seconds. Yes, my message to young people is to please know that you can protect yourself, you're at risk, but you can also protect others. Please wear a mask, stay away from large gatherings and practice good hand hygiene. Thank you so much for joining us this morning.

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

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