Dr. Deborah Birx, White House coronavirus task force coordinator, privately told a group of local and state health officials Wednesday about a concerning rise in coronavirus cases in 12 cities as President Trump continues to tout progress amid the coronavirus pandemic at scripted, on-message briefings this week.
According to audio obtained by journalism nonprofit Center for Public Integrity, Dr. Birx said during the call that there are cities that are lagging behind and we have new increases in Miami, San Jose, St. Louis, New Orleans, Las Vegas, Indianapolis, Minneapolis, Cleveland, Pittsburgh, Nashville, Columbus and Baltimore, so we’re tracking this very closely.
”We’re working with the state officials to make sure we’re responding together, but when you first see that increased test positivity, that is when to start the mitigation efforts.”
But at least two of the cities she mentioned as an area of concern, New Orleans and Baltimore, were not invited to the call and were not aware it was happening. Baltimore city officials announced a decision earlier Wednesday to enforce mandatory mask wearing and restrict indoor dining, a decision they based on their own independent data.
One source told CNN that the health department has not seen or heard about any report or list categorizing Baltimore as one of these cities of concern until media reached out following the call.
Taskforce spokesman Devin O’Malley said: “The administration holds frequent calls with local, state, and tribal leaders. There have been more than 320 of these calls with more than 150,000 participants.”
Meanwhile on Wednesday, a total 69,707 new virus cases were reported in the US, as the country inches closure to 4m cases. US jobless claims rise for the first time in months, as new restrictions force businesses to shut.
California is not the only state to have set a record for new coronavirus cases on Wednesday.
North Dakota, Missouri and West Virginia also recorded their highest daily new infections.
Idaho, Alabama and Texas reported new record highs in daily deaths.
President Trump has once again said he wants schools across the country to reopen, adding that he would be comfortable with his son, Barron, and grandchildren attending them.
Trump acknowledged concerns about the risk of spreading infections in schools while speaking during his latest coronavirus news conference, but said the statistics showed the dangers to children were very small.
The president also reiterated the importance of people continuing to socially distance and wash their hands.