US Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar defended the Trump administration’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic in an interview with Axios that aired on HBO Max Monday.
The United States has broken records for hospital admissions over the past week with more than 100,000 admissions, the Covid Tracking Project reported. The death toll stands at more than 283,000, according to Johns Hopkins University.
Azar defended the administration’s handling of the pandemic, claiming “millions of lives” have been saved.
“This response, thanks to the aggressive efforts of this government, of the President, his leadership team across the whole of government, we've saved lives,” Azar said. “We've saved hundreds of thousands, if not millions of lives.”
Azar defends Trump on mask wearing: In the same Axios interview, Azar insisted President Donald Trump encouraged mask use.
Trump refused to wear masks at numerous large campaign rallies over the summer and rallygoers also shunned face coverings. Now the White House is planning large holiday gatherings where required mask use is in question.
But Azar said that President has said wearing a mask is patriotic. Pushed on why he couldn’t convince guests at the White House for holiday parties to wear masks, Azar said he “wish(ed) they would wear face coverings.”
“I’m going to defer. I’m not leading the White House,” Azar said.
Azar on vaccines: Tens of millions of Americans will be vaccinated by Jan. 20 when President-elect Joe Biden takes over, Azar said in the same interview.
When asked if he had spoken to Biden’s transition team and whether the vaccine distribution plan would be set, Azar seemed to imply that Biden may not be taking over, before backtracking.
“If they come in on January 21, they're going to have the same team,” he said, adding: "The President's still litigating."
“We're planning for transition," he continued. "We're working closely with the Biden team to ensure a smooth, productive, cooperative transition.”