HHS, Miami leaders blame COVID-19 surge on irresponsible behavior

Beaches in some parts of Florida will be closed for the Fourth of July holiday because of the fear of spreading the coronavirus. File Photo By Gary I Rothstein/UPI | <a href="/News_Photos/lp/c460ae53aa407e6434d3f2ea203cc970/" target="_blank">License Photo</a>
Beaches in some parts of Florida will be closed for the Fourth of July holiday because of the fear of spreading the coronavirus. File Photo By Gary I Rothstein/UPI | License Photo

June 29 (UPI) -- U.S. and local leaders on Monday blamed irresponsible behavior for the surge in new COVID-19 cases across the United States as Democratic congressional leaders urged new negotiations on economic relief.

The United States had more cases than any other country at nearly 2.6 million Monday morning, according to a live tracker of the virus by Johns Hopkins University.


Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar pointed to irresponsible behavior for fueling the upsurge in cases, mainly in the South and West.

When asked if some states may have reopened their economies too soon, Azar said Americans must take individual responsibility for stopping the virus from spreading, including practicing social distancing and wearing masks.

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"We've got to get back to work, back to school, and back to healthcare," Azar told CBS This Morning. "We've seen states that have reopened just as much as the counties that are at issue here and have not seen these kinds of outbreaks.

"If we don't act responsibly, we're going to see governors ... pull back on those reopenings."

In Florida, Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez apportioned blame to "younger people basically disregarding the rules" for an upsurge of cases.


Sunday saw more than 8,530 cases after Florida reported a record 9,585 cases the day before, according to data from its health department. The state has had a reported 141,075 infections and 3,419 deaths from the virus.

More than a quarter of Sunday's new cases came from Miami-Dade County, which set a new single-day record of 2,152 new cases. The county's hospitalization rate rose for a 15th consecutive day.

"It's not coincidental that two weeks after demonstrations happen here in Miami-Dade County, a lot by young people, that we've had this spike," Gimenez told CNN on Monday.

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Gimenez closed Miami's beaches for Fourth of July weekend to avoid the large crowds.

In Washington, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., urged Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., to immediately start negotiations on a new coronavirus relief bill.

"The nation has seen a dramatic surge in both cases and deaths caused by the COVID-19 pandemic," they wrote in a letter to McConnell. "Adding to that pain, our economy is facing one of its greatest challenges since the Great Depression. Over one- fifth of the workforce has requested unemployment assistance."


They added, "Now is the time for action, not continued delays and political posturing."

After allocating $3 trillion for coronavirus relief in four bills, the Trump administration and Senate Republicans have balked at another rescue bill. The House passed a fifth relief measure in April, but President Donald Trump has threatened to veto it.

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