White House coronavirus task force coordinator Dr. Deborah Birx said Sunday it’s “difficult” to say if the country would have to close down again in the face of a second wave of the coronavirus.
In an interview on ABC News’ “This Week,” Birx was pressed about President Donald Trump’s insistence America won’t shut down again.
“It’s difficult to tell,” Birx said.
“We’re trying to learn very carefully how to reopen safely… we’ve not ever closed … the whole country [before],” she said. “We trying to understand during this period of coming out of closure how do we maintain openness and safety.”
“And also, I want to be very clear to the American people, we are preparing for that potential fall issue, both in PPE, which is protective devices, both in ventilator stockpiles, and ensuring that we're really pushing on therapeutics and vaccine development so we can be ready if the virus does come back in a significant way," she said.
According to Birx, testing is being pressed for finding asymptomatic cases, saying those are “what I’m worried about… all of this proactive testing needs to be in place.”
She also said that Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines for houses of worship were made available before the president pressed for their reopening.
"We all have made difficult behavioral changes and that needs to continue to happen...this only works if we all follow the guidelines,” she said.
Responding to increases in case in some states that are reopening — and pictures of crowded beaches — she added: “We really made it clear that during this reopening social gatherings should not be more than 10 people even if they’re outside.”
In a separate interview on “Fox News Sunday,” Birx said the short-cutting in coronavirus vaccine development is not one that will sacrifice safety.
“We’re not shortcutting the efficacy and safety testing, what we are shortcutting is the normal development time of manufacturing,” she said. “That’s how you can potentially shorten this by four to six or even eight months and that’s what’s happening now.”
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