White House coronavirus task force expert Dr. Deborah Birx warned Friday that the coronavirus surge is “very serious,” likening its spread in surging states like Florida, Texas and California to the outbreak this past spring in New York — which still ranks highest in the country in its staggering death toll for the virus.
White House task force coordinator Dr. Deborah Birx talks to @SavannahGuthrie about the rising coronavirus cases in states including Florida, Texas and California.
"What we have right now are essentially three New Yorks with these three major states," she says. pic.twitter.com/mczzED47NX
— TODAY (@TODAYshow) July 24, 2020
“I just want to make it clear to the American public, what we have right now are essentially three New Yorks with these three major states,” Birx told Today Show host Savannah Guthrie when asked about recent comments made by President Donald Trump that the pandemic would get worse in the United States before it gets better.
Birx’s comments come as coronavirus cases surged past 4 million in the United States on Thursday. The number of COVID-19-related deaths also exceeded 1,000 for the third consecutive day, according to the Washington Post. More than 500 of the fatalities were recorded in Florida, California and Texas, where the coronavirus continues its surge. Birx also sounded the alarm for rising cases in Arizona.
Birx hammered the point of wearing masks and practicing social distance amid a culture war that has put many people at risk for the virus as some continue to refuse to wear masks or keep a distance after President Trump has for months fanned the flame of political division weaponizing public health tools as a political prop and flouting CDC guidelines himself.
In a Thursday night interview with Sean Hannity Trump had criticized a group of “very respected people” who he said had advised against wearing masks in the early days of the pandemic.
“All of a sudden, it was a big thing to get masks. I’m all for it,” he said, citing a rare example of him donning a mask several weeks ago while visiting injured veterans at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center.
The President has also spent months downplaying the pandemic, only this week resuming daily coronavirus briefings after suggesting in a previous call with Hannity that COVID-19 cases were “created” through efforts to increase testing and that many of the people falling ill with COVID-19 just had “the sniffles.”
But when asked about the seriousness of the virus, Birx told Guthrie that “it’s very serious and it’s very real.”
The health expert added that the infection of young “asymptomatic” people under the age of 30 comes with added dangers because many infected young people were unwittingly spreading the virus. She attributed “this first wave” across Florida, Texas, California, and Arizona, to those unknowing young people who were infected but not wearing protective gear to prevent further spread of the virus.
“They have to assume that they are infected and positive, and we all need to protect those who need our protection right now,” Birx said.