CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- White House coronavirus task force leader Dr. Deborah Birx says widespread coronavirus infections in urban and rural America mark a “new phase” for the pandemic as she doubled down on calls to wear face masks and observe social distancing measures.
Birx, speaking on CNN’s “State of the Union” Sunday morning, said “What we are seeing today is different from March and April. It is extraordinarily widespread.”
The United States has the world’s biggest number of cases at 4.6 million, or one-quarter of the total, and 154,361 deaths.
Birx said mitigation efforts across the west and the south are beginning to work but warned that people need to take the virus seriously and employ significant safety precautions when cases first begin to tick up.
Most patients with COVID-19 have mild to moderate symptoms. However, in a small proportion of patients, COVID-19 can lead to more severe illness, including death, particularly among those who are older or those who have chronic medical conditions.
COVID-19 spreads primarily through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes.
Symptoms include fever, cough, and difficulty breathing. Symptoms appear within 14 days of being exposed to an infectious person.
Virginia health officials urged the following precautions:
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
- Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer only if soap and water are not available.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when coughing or sneezing.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.
- Stay home when you are sick.
- Avoid contact with sick people.
- Avoid non-essential travel.