Dr. Deborah Birx responded to Vice President Mike Pence’s claim that the coronavirus outbreak will be “behind us” by Memorial Day, asserting that Americans’ lives will continue to be disrupted by the virus through the summer.
Response coordinator for White House Coronavirus Task Force Deborah Birx speaks as US President … [+]
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“Social distancing will be with us through the summer to really ensure that we protect one another,” Birx said Sunday on NBC’s “Meet The Press.”
President Trump and his allies have, at times, struck a more aggressive tone than health officials on the White House coronavirus task force — such as Birx and Dr. Anthony Fauci — about how and when the U.S. will be able to safely reopen.
Pence said Thursday on Fox News radio that “trends” showed the U.S. the outbreak would be “behind us” by Memorial Day weekend; a day earlier, he told the Wall Street Journal the epidemic could be “largely in the past” by early June.
Birx reiterated that the reopening should be done gradually and on a regional basis, adding that any easing of social distancing restrictions should be like “slowly turning up the dimmer,” not flipping on a light switch.
Governors in several states have begun to reopen, even as polls show Americans are in overwhelming favor of social distancing restrictions; Georgia Governor Brian Kemp sparked controversy when he allowed businesses such as gyms, barber shops and tattoo parlors to resume business on Friday.
Trump pivoted from his aggressive push to ease social distancing restrictions and rebuked the governor on Wednesday, saying, “I want him to do what he thinks is right, but I disagree with him on what he is doing—I think it’s too soon.”
Birx added that most governors she’s talked to “understand the risk” of easing social distancing restrictions too soon. Still, governors are facing pressure to lift stay-at-home orders that have crippled the U.S. economy. Most governors have yet to reopen their state’s economy in any significant way.
Birx again responded to Trump’s suggestion that people could possibly inject themselves with disinfectant to kill the virus, asserting that it is not a viable treatment: “I also made it very clear, and so has Dr. Fauci and everyone associated with the task force, in their clarity around this is not a treatment.”
Pence Says Coronavirus Could Be Largely Past by Early June (Wall Street Journal)