WASHINGTON (NEXSTAR) — The COVID-19 virus has killed more than 126,000 Americans and top health experts agree the coronavirus pandemic is not over.

“In the United States daily cases are increasing,” said the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Dr. Robert Redfield.

Dr. Anthony Fauci with the National Institutes of Health said loosened state restrictions should only come when cases are actually decreasing and while following other guidelines.

“The use of masks, things like that will help to keep the level of infection in the community down which will then make it easier to get the children back to school,” Fauci said.

Public health experts say we can drastically slow the spread of the virus if everyone wears a mask in public. Senator Lamar Alexander urged President Trump to set the example.

“This simple life saving practice has become part of the political debate,” Lamar (R-TN) said. “That’s why I’ve suggested that the president occasionally wear a mask.”

Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) said Congress needs to hold the administration accountable on testing and preparing for a vaccine.

“We need a comprehensive national vaccine plan from the Trump administration as soon as possible,” Murray said.

Senator Mitt Romney (R-UT) said the public needs more guidance.

“People are getting on airplanes, they’re going to restaurants. Where is the risk greatest and where are we relatively safe?” he asked.

Health experts say gatherings are safer when they’re outdoors.

“A congregation at a bar, inside, is bad news,” Fauci said.

Officials say a true return to normalcy will only come when safety steps are followed and a vaccine is developed.