On Thursday, the Trump administration’s Coronavirus Task Force Response Coordinator Dr. Deborah Birx appeared on “CBS This Morning” to answer questions about the ongoing crisis, as well as potential timelines for mitigation and treatment.
Referencing President Trump’s assertion that “we will win, and we will win very quickly,” co-host Gayle King first asked Dr. Birx: “What is the White House definition of quickly?”
Birx replied that the White House is “looking very closely at the data” from multiple nations such as China and South Korea, and is “encouraged by the recent reports from China of no new cases.”
Birx added that the administration is closely watching as China opens up following the nation’s mass quarantines to see “if that impacts the spread of the virus.”
Co-host Tony Dokoupil then asked about timelines. “Right now, we’re in this two-weeks-to-slow-the-spread period, but there are other reports coming from the administration about a possible 18-month fight. How long should Americans be prepared to take precautions to fight this pandemic?”
“With respiratory diseases, they have a peak, and often fall off during the summer months,” Birx responded. “If this works like every other respiratory disease that comes to us in the winter.”
Birx then stated that the administration is examining the possibility that the illness might re-emerge in the fall. “That’s why the president’s been working non-stop both on therapeutics that could be available in the summer and fall, and vaccines that could be available … It’s a today vision, a tomorrow vision, but also a 90-day vision, a fall vision, and a fall 2021 vision to make sure that we’re following everything.”
Regarding when the peak may arrive, Birx noted that they are looking at the peaks that have occurred in other countries.
“Now, in every other country where the peak came and the cases declined, it was because every single person in that country followed the guidelines that our president has put out,” Birx said. “These guidelines are extraordinarily important. It’s about social distancing; it’s about washing your hands; it’s about ensuring that you’re protecting yourself and protecting others.”
In an apparent dig at the spring-breakers in Florida who seem to be disregarding guidelines, Birx added: “It’s not about partying on beaches during spring break.”
Birx concluded by talking about the need for more data. She also offered a word of caution regarding the sudden increase in case numbers that could be seen shortly.
“So, to every American out there who’s watching the new cases, these are new cases coming from the backlog for samples that were collected four, five, and six days ago,” Birx said. “And as those get run, our number of new cases will dramatically increase because they’re not daily cases, they’re cases that are from the last few days.”
The coronavirus, which originated in China’s Hubei province, has infected over 242,000 people worldwide, and led to more than 9,800 deaths, according to data from Johns Hopkins Center for Systems Science and Engineering (CSSE) Global Cases map. Nearly 85,000 people who had coronavirus have recovered.
In the United States, there have been more than 13,000 confirmed cases of the illness, and 176 deaths as of publication.
Italy, which is viewed as a hotspot for the virus in Europe, has had over 41,000 confirmed cases, and approximately 3,400 deaths. More than 4,400 have recovered, according to the CSSE Global Cases data.