Birx to Those Where COVID Is Surging: Wear Masks at Home

If you live with someone who's especially vulnerable to this 'extraordinarily widespread' virus
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 3, 2020 6:24 AM CDT
Updated Aug 3, 2020 6:53 AM CDT
Birx on 'New Phase' of Virus: It's 'Extraordinarily Widespread'
Dr. Deborah Birx listens as President Trump speaks during a news conference at the White House on July 23, 2020, in Washington.   (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

As the US nears 155,000 deaths from COVID-19, the virus has entered a "new phase," Dr. Deborah Birx warned Sunday. The White House's coronavirus task force coordinator, who appeared on CNN's State of the Union, said the disease "is different from March and April" and is now "extraordinarily widespread," now making an appearance in rural areas as much as in city centers. The Washington Post notes Missouri, Montana, Oklahoma, Hawaii, and Alaska were among the states with the biggest surges in new cases over the past week or so. Public health experts have said that household transmission is a "huge factor" in places with recent outbreaks, per the New York Times, and Birx noted that people in those areas who live with others who are vulnerable should simply assume they themselves are infected, even if they don't have symptoms, and wear masks even at home.

Birx also said that as she's traveled lately, she's seen "all of America moving," and that people who've chosen to vacation in places where cases are surging should also assume they're infected, per the Times. CNN notes a chilling forecast by the CDC that predicts more than 173,000 deaths from the virus by the third week of August—and former FDA chief Dr. Scott Gottlieb has said that number could reach 300,000 by year's end. Birx wouldn't commit to a specific projection, noting that much depends on how states in the South and West contend with their outbreaks. Meanwhile, Gottlieb, who appeared on CBS' Face the Nation on Sunday, said we'll likely end up "just seeing [the virus] rotate through different parts of the country" as we enter the fall, and that "it's [going to] be hard to keep the virus out" even in places like the Northeast, which Gottlieb says could become "reseeded." (More Deborah Birx stories.)

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