A top official on the White House’s coronavirus task force warned Sunday that every metro area in the United States will likely face a major outbreak.
Deborah Birx, a medical doctor and the task force’s response coordinator, told NBC’s “Meet the Press” that she remains “deeply concerned” about the pandemic and called on every state to issue mitigation measures.
“No state, no metro area will be spared,” Birx said. “The sooner we react and the sooner the states and the metro areas react and ensure that they have put in full mitigation, at the same time understanding exactly what their hospitals need, then we’ll be able to move forward.”
The U.S. last week surpassed China as the country with the most confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus. There are more than 124,000 confirmed cases in the U.S. and at least 2,100 deaths, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.
Some of the country’s major cities have been the hardest hit by the virus so far with New York City home to over 30,000 confirmed cases and at least 670 deaths.
“Every metro area should assume that they could have an outbreak equivalent to New York,” Birx said Sunday.
Asked whether she believes New York, New Jersey and parts of Connecticut should be quarantined to slow the spread of the virus, as President Donald Trump floated on Saturday, Birx wouldn’t say outright.
“What we’re trying to say to everyone is, when this virus comes to your metro area, please stay in your metro area where your care can be provided because it’s spreading virus more quickly around the United States,” she said.
Trump said Saturday that he was considering issuing a quarantine order for the tri-state area, but later said it “will not be necessary.” Instead, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a travel advisory urging people in those states to “refrain from non-essential domestic travel” for the next two weeks.
CORRECTION: A quote from Birx has been updated to reflect that she said, “Every metro area should assume that they could have an outbreak equivalent to New York” not that every metro area should assume they will have an equivalent outbreak.
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