Health experts within the White House issued a grave warning over the weekend, stating that “we are in a new phase,” with the novel coronavirus spreading beyond city centers and entering rural areas.
“What we are seeing today is different from March and April,” said Deborah Birx, who serves as response coordinator for the White House’s coronavirus task force. “It is extraordinarily widespread” in city as well as rural centers, she added.
“To everybody who lives in a rural area: You are not immune or protected from this virus,” Birx added.
Birx’s recommendations for controlling the spread of the pandemic, which has claimed at least 154,000 American lives so far, go beyond what the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has advocated in its guidelines regarding wearing masks in public places. According to Birx, individuals who live in multigenerational households should also wear masks, even when they’re inside their own homes, to prevent the possible spread to at-risk populations, such as elderly persons.
Individuals in such homes should assume they already have the disease, Birx added, and take necessary precautions to protect each other.
After traveling to 14 states over the past three weeks, Birx said she witnessed a lack of safeguards among the public to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
“As I traveled around the country, I saw all of America moving. If you have chosen to go on vacation into a hotspot, you really need to come back and protect those with comorbidities and assume you’re infected,” she said.
On Monday, World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus warned the world that there may not be a single way to stop the spread of coronavirus, even if a vaccine is developed later on.
“A number of vaccines are now in phase three clinical trials and we all hope to have a number of effective vaccines that can help prevent people from infection,” he said. “However, there’s no silver bullet at the moment — and there might never be.”
In the meantime, the most effective measures include mask-wearing when out in public, social distancing as much as possible, and washing one’s hands regularly.
“The message to people and governments is clear: ‘Do it all,'” Tedros explained.
President Donald Trump, meanwhile, continued to spout disinformation regarding testing, asserting that the United States would have less cases as compared to the rest of the world if testing was paused or limited.
“We have more cases because we have tested far more than any other country, 60,000,000. If we tested less, there would be less cases,” Trump claimed.
A number of epidemiologists have pointed out the flaws in Trump’s statements on testing, explaining that stopping tests wouldn’t reduce cases, but limit our understanding about the spread of the virus.
The U.S. continues to see more coronavirus cases, as well as more deaths as a result of the disease, than any other nation. According to the CDC, deaths due to COVID-19 are expected to climb in the coming weeks, as the agency predicts around 11,000 Americans will die weekly from COVID-19 for the month of August.
The month of July saw a significant spread of coronavirus, in spite of assurances from the Trump administration that things were starting to head in the right direction.
Toward the end of June, the president suggested the disease would be “going away,” echoing comments he made as early as February. Yet in the month of July, 1.9 million new cases of COVID-19 were identified across the country, and at least 25,000 deaths were attributed to the disease.