“You can see for the first time in the United States, we are starting to level on the logarithmic phase, like Italy did about a week ago,” she said at a White House briefing on Friday. “And so this gives us great heart that not only in specific places but that we are starting to see that change. A lot of that is driven by the improvement in New York City.”
What Birx means is that cases are continuing to grow, but the rate is slowing.
She added, “As encouraging as they are, we have not reached the peak, and so everyday we need to continue to do what we did yesterday, the week before, and the week before that, because that’s what, in the end, is going to take us up across the peak and down the other side.”
There are still many unknowns when it comes to the virus, and Birx said that they still do not know the full extent of the spread of the epidemic. “Is this the tip of the iceberg or three-quarters of the iceberg that we’ve seen to date?”
Dr. Anthony Fauci, another member of the task force and the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said that they are seeing the “leveling off” but “it is important to remember that this is not the time to feel that since we have made such important advance in the sense of success of the mitigation that we need to be pulling back at all.”
President Donald Trump told reporters that “we are looking at a date” for easing social distancing guidelines, but “we are not going to be doing anything until we know that this country is going to be healthy. We don’t want to go back and start doing it over again, even though we know it would be in a smaller scale.”
CNN’s chief White House correspondent Jim Acosta asked Trump about some of the calls to “reopen” the economy on May 1. Media figures like Laura Ingraham have advocated for that date, while critical of Fauci’s calls for continued mitigation measures.
Trump said that in deciding whether to relax the measures, he will “certainly listen” to his medical advisers if they advise against easing the guidelines by that date. “I understand both sides of the argument very well,” he said.
The briefing was the second in less than 24 hours, as it was held earlier in the day because of Good Friday. CNN, MSNBC and Fox News carried it live, and CBS News featured a special report.
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