White House Coronavirus Task Force Coordinator Dr. Deborah Birx speaks at the White House on March 18, 2020. (Photo by BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP via Getty Images)
(CNSNews.com) – Dr. Deborah Birx, a member of the White House Coronavirus Task Force, said on Sunday the nation has entered a “new phase” of the coronavirus epidemic, something she witnessed while visiting 14 states in the last three weeks:
“I can tell you, across America right now, people are on the move. And so all of our discussions about social distancing and decreasing gatherings to under 10, as I traveled around the country, I saw all of America moving,” Birx told CNN’s “State of the Union” on Sunday.
“And I think it’s our job, as public health officials, to be able to get a message to each American that says, if you have chosen to go on vacation into a hot spot, you really need to come back and protect those with co-morbidities and assume you’re infected.”
Dr. Birx said the nation is in a “new phase” of the outbreak:
But I want to be very clear. What we are seeing today is different from March and April. It is extraordinarily widespread. It’s into the rural as equal urban areas.
And to everybody who lives in a rural area, you are not immune or protected from this virus. And that is why we keep saying, no matter where you live in America, you need to wear a mask and socially distance, do the personal hygiene pieces.
But, more importantly, if you’re in multigenerational households, and there’s an outbreak in your rural area or in your city, you need to really consider wearing a mask at home, assuming that you’re positive, if you have individuals in your households with comorbidities.
This epidemic right now is different, and it’s wide — it’s more widespread.
Birx made it clear she’s more concerned about “super-spreading events” than she is about super-spreader individuals:
“You know, public health is called public health because it has a public component,” she said.
“And we need all of the public to help us get control of this virus. If we still are going to parties at home, even though the bars are closed, if we are creating interactions where we know it’s not safe, because there’s multiple people there, and you don’t have masks on, and you’re not socially distanced, you can assume — it’s not super-spreading individuals. It’s super-spreading events. And we need to stop those.
“We definitely need to take more precautions.”
Last week, Birx said mitigation efforts are working in the hard-hit Sun Belt states of Florida, Texas, Arizona and California, but she warned of rising positivity rates in so-called “yellow zone” states, including Colorado, the District of Columbia, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Minnesota, Missouri, North Carolina, Nebraska, Ohio, Utah, Washington and Wisconsin.