White House coronavirus response coordinator Dr. Deborah Birx warned that “no state, no metro area will be spared” from the coronavirus outbreak during an interview on MSNBC Sunday morning.
Birx’s interview comes a day after President Trump backed away from his idea to quarantine the New York tri-state area to contain the surge in coronavirus cases. On Sunday morning, fellow coronavirus task force member Dr. Anthony Fauci told CNN that the Trump administration released a travel advisory instead of a quarantine for the tri-state area after “very intensive discussions” at the White House with the President last night.
When asked whether a quarantine for the New York tri-state area would be the best way to slow down the coronavirus virus outbreak, Birx responded that “a lot of people who could leave New York left New York” when alerts went out of the increased number of infections.
“And so we immediately saw cases rising out on Long Island and cases rising in southern Florida,” Birx said. “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.”
Asked if domestic air travel should be shut down, Birx noted that air travel in and out of New York is down by 90%, which indicates that “people are using their common sense to protect others.”
However, Birx argued that because doctors and nurses in the U.S. are part of the country’s surge capacity, “we need to be able to get them places.”
In response to whether the White House’s 15-day guidelines are going to get extended through the end of April, Birx said that mayors in metropolitan areas need to prepare for an outbreak as severe as New York’s.
“What I wanted to be very clear on is every metro area should assume that they could have an outbreak equivalent to New York and do everything right now to prevent it,” Birx said. “If they mitigate now before they start seeing cases in the emergency room and in the hospital, once you see those, the virus has been spreading for days to weeks. So this is really my call on every mayor to prepare now.”
After she did not confirm whether the guidelines could be extended, saying that her job today is to “put all the data together,” Birx added that she would share a recommendation with Trump and Vice President Mike Pence first.
Watch Birx’s remarks below:
Birx: "Every metro area should assume that they could have an outbreak equivalent to New York." pic.twitter.com/ClBRFffuKl
— Talking Points Memo (@TPM) March 29, 2020