Deborah Birx, Coronavirus Response Coordinator for the White House Coronavirus Task Force, speaks after a briefing by the White House Coronavirus Task Force on June 26, 2020 at the Department of Health and Human Services in Washington, DC.
Joshua Roberts | Getty Images
Dr. Deborah Birx, coordinator of the White House Coronavirus Task Force, said Sunday that the US was "at a new stage" in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic, and urged Americans to wear masks and guidelines to follow social distancing.
"What we see today differs from March and April. It is extremely common … it is more common and is both rural and urban," Birx said during an interview on CNN.
"You are not immune or protected from this virus to anyone living in a rural area," said Birx. "And that's why we keep saying, no matter where you live in America, you have to wear a mask and social distance to make the personal hygiene items."
In the U.S., there are more than 4.6 million coronavirus cases and at least 154,449 deaths, most in one country, according to Johns Hopkins University.
When asked about former FDA commissioner Scott Gottlieb's warning that the country could suffer 300,000 deaths by the end of 2020, Birx replied, "Anything is possible," but declined to provide details of current forecasts.
Birx said the number of US virus deaths will depend on how the southern and western states respond to the virus with the worst outbreaks in the coming weeks.
The virus is spreading rapidly across much of the Midwest, as well as in countries such as Florida and California, where infections have increased significantly. The northeast, once the epicenter of the virus, has seen a decline in cases since its peak in April.
"They are not super-spreading individuals, they are super-spreading events and we have to stop them," said Birx. "We definitely need to take more precautions."
When asked whether schools should remain closed in areas with a 5% positivity rate and should have distance learning, Birx rejected the CDC guidelines on reopening schools.
"If you have a heavy fall load and active community spreading, as we ask people not to go to bars, not to host household parties, not to host large spreading events, we ask people to do distance learning right now give so we can. " Get this epidemic under control, "said Birx.