Birx warns of worrying increase in coronavirus cases in 12 cities as Trump paints optimistic picture

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“There are cities that are lagging behind and we have further increases in Miami, New Orleans, Las Vegas, San Jose, St. Louis, Indianapolis, Minneapolis, Cleveland, Nashville, Pittsburgh, Columbus and Baltimore, so we are following this very We are working with state officials to make sure we respond together, but when you first see this increased test positivity, this is when mitigation efforts need to be made. start, ”Birx said during the call according to audio obtained by the nonprofit Journalism Center for Public Integrity.

But at least two of the cities she mentioned as of concern, Baltimore and New Orleans, were not invited to the call and were unaware it was happening, two told CNN. sources close to the call. Earlier Wednesday, Baltimore city officials announced a move to impose mandatory mask wear and restrict indoor dining, a move they based on their own independent data. However, the health department has not seen or heard of any report or list classifying Baltimore as one of those cities of concern until media contacted after the call, a source said.

“The administration holds frequent appeals with local, state and tribal leaders. There were over 320 of these calls with over 150,000 participants, ”task force spokesperson Devin O’Malley said.

On the call, Birx continued, “I know it might sound small, and you can say it’s only gone from five to five and a half, and we’ll wait and see what happens. If you wait another three to four, even five days, you will start to see a dramatic increase in the number of cases. It is therefore essential to find and find these very early people. ”

Birx told officials in places where test positivity is increased to “(make sure) they’re aggressive in mitigation efforts,” noting that the administration provides governors with a weekly report with clear recommendations. for mitigation.One such report, also obtained by the IPC last week, recommended that 18 states in the “red zone” defined by the working group for cases should reverse reopening measures amid rising cases. These reports are not made public.

Birx told officials on Wednesday that there were “small glimmers of diminishing test positivity in many of our subways in Texas and of course in Phoenix”, but the task force has “deep concerns about specific subways. , of course in Florida, and the spread of the epidemic in California in the Central Valley. ”

His comments come as the United States is set to surpass 4 million confirmed cases of coronavirus, overwhelming many hospitals and laboratories across the country. The United States has reported more cases of Covid-19 in the past two weeks – 915,000 – than it has during the entire month of June.

Dr Anthony Fauci, the country’s leading infectious disease specialist and another member of the White House coronavirus task force, warned on Wednesday that the United States is “certainly not at the end of the game”, with a series of baseball metaphors.

“I’m not even sure we’re halfway there. I mean obviously if you want to make a score, I don’t want to be too cute about it but certainly we aren’t winning the game right now, we are not leading it, ”Fauci said during a live question-and-answer session with TB Alliance.

A White House spokesperson said Birx’s comments were in line with Trump’s briefing remarks on Wednesday.

“This does not depart from what the president said yesterday. The virus is still with us, we have states and subways with significant epidemics, and we need to take this incredibly seriously, ”Deputy Press Secretary Judd Deere told CNN.

Trump said on Tuesday that the pandemic “is unfortunately likely to get worse before it gets better.”

But he picked out some of the most encouraging aspects of the pandemic in his briefings and declined to stand alongside his top public health officials, telling reporters that showing up solo on the podium was “a very concise way. to do “.

Kristen Holmes of CNN contributed to this report.

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