The White House Coronavirus Task Force is reportedly telling states this week that Americans need to exhibit a "significant behavior change" including wearing masks. It comes as new cases average more than 172,000 per day in the past week and some states warn that their hospitals are on the brink of capacity.
The Hill and CNN report they obtained a copy of the task force report to states ahead of a Thanksgiving holiday that could exacerbate the fall surge.
"There is aggressive, rapid, and expanding community spread across the country, reaching over 2,000 counties," the report said, according to CNN. The report calls for more forceful efforts to “flatten the curve to sustain the health system for both COVID and non-COVID emergencies," The Hill said.
The report says states that use aggressive mitigation tactics are starting to see a stabilization of cases, but in other areas, these efforts are inadequate or were implemented too late, according to The Hill.
In addition to more testing, the report says Americans need to change their behavior.
"Ensure masks at all times in public, increase physical distancing through significant reduction in capacity in public and private indoor spaces, and ensure every American understands the clear risks of ANY family or friend interactions outside of their immediate household indoors without masks," reads the report.
The task force report says this, along with restricting indoor dining and limiting or closing areas where people gather without masks "are a short-term sacrifice to protect the vulnerable as the U.S. bridges to the rapid vaccination of vulnerable populations over the next few months,” CNN and The Hill reported.
The report notes that Europe is seeing a surge similar to the U.S., but its mitigation efforts are leading to signs of improvement.
There is no nationwide mandate for masks, lockdowns or business closures. Each state has its own rules, with some refusing to issue mask requirements despite urging from health officials that mask use could significantly reduce the spread of the virus.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has urged Americans to stay home this Thanksgiving and avoid large gatherings with people outside their household. But airports are the busiest they have been since March, an indication that millions of Americans are ignoring the warnings.
The U.S. posted a record number of hospitalizations and ICU patients again on Tuesday, according to the COVID Tracking Project. The number of people on ventilators reached 5,630 -- a number that has been rising roughly 200 per day and could pass the record of 7,070 by next week if it continues.