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After a series of press conferences from the White House coronavirus task force, Dr. Deborah Birx has emerged as someone Americans can rely on for evolving information about the global coronavirus pandemic and its impact on the United States.
On Thursday, the response coordinator for the task force appeared on CBS This Morning where she fielded questions about when the virus could peak in the U.S. — a growing topic point ever since President Donald Trump and the task force initiated their 15-day coronavirus guidelines in an attempt to slow the spread, or flatten the curve, on Monday.
“The only thing we can look at is the same thing you all are looking at — is what the peaks look like in every other country,” said Birx. “Now in every other country where the peak came, and the cases declined, it was because every single person in that country followed the guidelines that our president has put out. These guidelines are extraordinarily important. It’s about social distancing, it’s about washing your hands. It’s about, ensuring that you’re protecting yourself and protecting others. It’s not about partying on beaches during spring break.”
Birx stressed that the task force is looking closely at the data coming out of the other countries that have been most impacted by the virus, namely China — which, in a milestone, reported no new local infections on Thursday — South Korea and Italy.
“We’re encouraged by the recent reports from China, of no new cases. We’re watching very carefully about China going back to work and seeing if that impacts the spread of the virus,” Birx said as China eyes steps toward rebuilding its society. “So we’re learning from other countries. If our profile looks like China, we believe that that is very quickly. But we are evaluating every single country, and the data coming from that country.”
Trump told the American people that “we are going to win and we are going to win very quickly,” but a recent report revealed that the administration’s federal plan for battling coronavirus includes a potential 18-month fight, and Birx told CBS This Morning that they are indeed “tracking very carefully” the possibility of the coronavirus disease, COVID-19, returning in the fall of 2020 or the the fall of 2021.
“With respiratory diseases, they have a peak, and often fall off during the summer months, if this works like every other respiratory disease that comes to us in the winter,” she explained. “Then we’re tracking very carefully about what would happen if it came back in the fall or came back in the fall after that. And that’s why the president’s been working nonstop, both on therapeutics that could be available in the summer and fall and vaccines that could be available in the fall of 2020. It’s a today vision, a tomorrow vision, but also a 90-day vision, a fall vision, and a fall 2021 vision, to make sure that we’re following everything.”
Birx stressed that the need for rapidness with U.S. data is key at the moment.
“To every American out there that is watching the new cases, these are new cases coming from the backlog [of testing],” she said. “For samples that were collected four, five and six days ago and as those get run, our number of new cases will dramatically increase because they’re not daily cases, they’re cases that are from the last few days. Once we get through the backlog we’ll be able to to tell you precisely how many tests are negative, how many are positive and with this new reporting requirement it will be accurate.”
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