US is in a new phase of coronavirus pandemic and it's 'extraordinarily widespread', warns Deborah Birx

The CDC's latest national ensemble forecast predicts that 168,000 to 182,000 total Covid-19 deaths will be reported by August 22

                            US is in a new phase of coronavirus pandemic and it's 'extraordinarily widespread', warns Deborah Birx
(Getty Images)

The US is in a "new phase" of the Covid-19 pandemic, it is "extraordinarily widespread", and it is both rural and urban, cautioned White House coronavirus task force coordinator Dr Deborah Birx while urging people to take safety precautions as deaths and cases continue to rise. The warning comes even as the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is projecting that up to 182,000 Americans could die from Covid-19 by August 22.

"We are in a new phase. And that is why I really wanted to make it clear to the American people. It's why we started putting out governor reports directly to the health officials and the governors in every single state because we could see that each thing had to be tailored. So, each state has a tailored set of recommendations, based on what we are seeing at the community level, what we are seeing relevant to the hospitals. And each of these responses has to be dramatically tailored," Birx said during an interview on CNN’s 'State of the Union'.

The expert said that the pandemic right now is different, it is wide and it is more widespread. She cautioned that people in rural communities are not immune or protected from it. "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, (and) do personal hygiene," said Birx. She added, "But most importantly, if you’re in multigenerational households, and there's an outbreak in your rural area or 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."

The US has surpassed more than 4.6M confirmed coronavirus cases and over 154,840 have died as of August 3. The CDC’s latest national ensemble forecast predicts that weekly reports of new Covid-19 deaths may increase over August, with 5,000 to 11,000 new deaths reported during the week ending August 22. Overall, the ensemble forecast predicts that 168,000 to 182,000 total Covid-19 deaths will be reported by August 22. State-level forecasts predict that the number of reported new deaths per week may increase over the next four weeks in Alabama, Kentucky, New Jersey, Puerto Rico, Tennessee and Washington. 

Deborah Birx said no matter where people live in America, they need to wear a mask, socially distance and follow safe hygiene practices (Getty Images)

While Birx did not give a projection of how many people will die in the US from Covid-19 by the year-end, she said that it will largely depend on how states maintain and accelerate their mitigation efforts, particularly across the South and the West.

Birx, however, did not rule out an estimate from former Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Commissioner Scott Gottlieb that virus deaths could top 300,000 by the end of the year, saying that anything is possible. But she said that such an outcome would be far less likely if people practiced social distancing and avoided large gatherings. Birx said that as soon as the first cases show up, one must respond with significant mitigation efforts. "Anything is possible if we don't have all — public health is called public health because it has a public component. 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," Birx warned. 

In response to a question about whether the federal government should ‘reset’ its approach, Birx said that the federal government did so about five to six weeks ago when cases exploded in the South. “And that is why we have done these very — rather than a generic federal framework, we have gone to very specific state and local, city by city, county by county, showing out which counties and which cities are under a particular threat and what mitigation has to be done. And what we are starting to see across the West and across the South, which the American people should find a little bit reassuring, is, these mitigation efforts are beginning to work,” she said. 

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