Social distancing will continue through the summer, Dr. Birx warns

The White House coronavirus task force response coordinator also addressed President Trump's comments about using disinfectant as treatment.

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/ Source: TODAY
By Alexander Kacala and Ben Kamisar

During an appearance on Meet the Press on Sunday, the White House coronavirus task force response coordinator warned that social distancing practices will need to continue through the summer to ensure the safety of the American people.

“Social distancing will be with us through the summer to really ensure that we protect one another as we move through these phases," Dr. Deborah Birx said to Chuck Todd.

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Birx's comments come after Mike Pence said on Friday that the coronavirus pandemic could be "largely" behind Americans as early as Memorial Day weekend.

When pressed about Pence's comments, Birx voiced some optimism about the country’s direction, telling Todd that new modeling based off the virus’s progression in America is promising.

“Previously, we were using models based on data from around the world. Now we are very much tracking every single outbreak in the United States separately,” she said.

“If you look at these outbreaks over time and you look at places like Louisiana, if you look at Houston, if you look at Detroit, if you look at how they've reached their peak and come down and what those cases look like as they come down, it gives us great hope when you project out Boston and Chicago and certainly the New York metro," Birx explained.

While these projections suggest things are looking up, some public health officials worry that it's still too early to reopen. Almost 20 states have plans to reopen businesses in some capacity next week.

When asked if she’s concerned that some states are moving too quickly, Birx said: "I've had really, very good conversations with a series of governors, and they've really been very insightful of how they're looking at this. They understand the risk, and they talk about this not as turning on a light switch but slowly turning up the dimmer."

Birx also addressed President Donald Trump’s recent comments about whether disinfectant or UV light could be viable treatments for the coronavirus — comments Trump later said were sarcastic.

“I also made it very clear, and so has Dr. Fauci and everyone associated with the task force, and the clarity around this is not a treatment,” she said.

“All of us are very clear and very clear in our discussions with the American people how we are looking and utilizing data to drive decision-making within the task force."