As new coronavirus cases continue to surge in the United States, White House coronavirus response coordinator Dr. Deborah Birx has advised that it may be time to consider wearing face masks while at home.
While the CDC is projecting that new COVID-19 deaths in America could rise by 19,000 in the next 20 days, Birx issued a strong warning about the new “widespread” phase of infection.
“We are in a new phase,” she said while speaking with CNN’s State of the Union over the weekend. “What we are seeing today is different from March and April. It is extraordinarily widespread.”
Although in the early days of the pandemic, major cities tended to have the majority of cases — with New York City being the epicenter — in recent weeks, several Midwestern states have experienced a surge in cases.
“To everybody who lives in a rural area, you are not immune or protected from this virus,” she added. “And that’s why we keep saying no matter where you live in America, you need to wear a mask and socially distance.”
“But more importantly, if you're in multi-generational households, and there's an outbreak in your rural area or in your city, you need to really consider wearing a mask at home,” she added.
For the first time, Birx has also found herself on the receiving end of an angry Tweet from President Donald Trump — who has previously criticized coronavirus task force member Dr. Anthony Fauci.
On Monday, Trump railed against the comments she made in the media, which he felt were out of line with the “very good job we are doing” combatting the virus.
He went on to claim that her comments were made in direct response to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who has recently issued numerous critiques of Birx.
“In order to counter Nancy, Deborah took the bait & hit us,” he wrote. “Pathetic!”
Recently speaking with ABC News’ This Week, Pelosi said that she had no “confidence” in Birx.
"I think the president is spreading disinformation about the virus and she is his appointee," the House Speaker said. "So I don't have confidence there, no."
Doubling down on her criticism with a subsequent interview on CNN, claiming that Birx “has enabled” the president to spread misinformation.
"I don't have confidence and anyone who stands there while the president says, 'Swallow Lysol and it's going to cure your virus.' … I don't have confidence in somebody when the president says it's a hoax, it's magic," she said. "There has to be some responsibility, so if the president is saying these things, who is advising him that this is OK and enabling that to happen?"
Last Wednesday, the U.S. recorded 1,420 new deaths due to COVID-19, the most since May — representing nearly one death for every minute of the day.
As of Monday morning, the United States has recorded more than 4.6 million cases of the virus, and at least 155,335 people have died, according to The New York Times’ database.
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