The United States is likely to have enough safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines available to inoculate the most vulnerable Americans by the end of 2020, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said on Wednesday.
Top officials at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention stressed on Wednesday that the coronavirus pandemic is far from over, and the CDC's deputy director for infectious diseases, Jay Butler, said the outbreak has been worsening as cold weather pushes Americans indoors.
BUTLER: "Unfortunately, we are seeing a distressing trend here in the United States with COVID-19 cases increasing in nearly 75% of the country.
[FLASH] I recognize that we are all getting tired of the impact that COVID-19 has had on our lives.
We get tired of wearing masks, but it continues to be as important as it's ever been and I would say it's more important than ever as we move into the fall season." CDC Director Robert Redfield said he was optimistic that one or two vaccines, likely from Pfizer or Moderna, will be available by the end of the year.
REDFIELD: "But we're not quite there yet." Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar was more upbeat about the prospects of a vaccine being available to inoculate the most vulnerable Americans before the end of 2020.
AZAR: "There is hope on the way in the form of safe and effective vaccines in a matter of weeks or months." Azar said he expects all seniors, healthcare workers, and first responders will be able to receive a vaccine as soon as January, with the rest of the American public able to get a vaccine by April.
At recent campaign rallies, President Donald Trump has said the U.S. is "rounding the corner" in the coronavirus pandemic.
At Wednesday's news conference, Azar was asked about it.
REPORTER ON THE PHONE: "In simple English, sir, are we rounding the corner and are these rallies a good idea?" AZAR: "Listen, our guidance is the same regardless of setting.
Wash your hands, watch your distance, wear your face covering when you can't watch your distance and avoid settings where you can't do those things." According to a Reuters analysis, four states reported a record one-day increase in COVID-19 deaths on Wednesday - Iowa, Minnesota, Montana and Wisconsin, a hotly contested state in the Nov.
3 presidential election, as infections have kept rising.
The analysis also showed that Wisconsin reported a record daily increase in new cases, together with Illinois and Ohio.