White House Coronavirus Task Force doctor recommends Florida reducing gatherings to 10 people or less

White House coronavirus response coordinator Dr. Deborah Birx holds a graph as she speaks...
White House coronavirus response coordinator Dr. Deborah Birx holds a graph as she speaks during a White House Coronavirus Task Force briefing at the Department of Education building Wednesday, July 8, 2020, in Washington. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)(Manuel Balce Ceneta | AP)
Published: Jul. 8, 2020 at 1:06 PM CDT
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PANAMA CITY, Fla. (WJHG) - In Wednesday’s White House Coronavirus Task Force briefing, one doctor asked four states to go back to Phase 1 recommendations after seeing a surge in COVID-19 numbers.

Dr. Deborah Birx, the Coronavirus Response Coordinator for the White House Coronavirus Task Force, spoke about an increase in cases and positivity rates when testing in Arizona, Florida, Texas, and California during the briefing.

“To all of the Americans out there that are in these four states, and the states that have in the report in the red zone, because there is a series of other states that we have in that zone, is really asking the American people in those counties and in those states to not only use the face coverings, not going to bars, not going to indoor dining, but really not gathering in homes either. Decreasing those gatherings back down to our Phase 1 recommendation, which was 10 or less,” she said.

Vice President Mike Pence started the briefing out saying the United States now has more than 3 million confirmed positive COVID-19 cases.

Vice President Pence also says there are early indications that the percent positive testing is beginning to flatten in Arizona, Florida, and Texas. He says in Arizona and Florida, they are beginning to see the number of emergency room visits of people with symptoms of COVID-19 declining.

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos spoke about reopening schools across the nation.

“Students can and must continue to learn full time,” DeVos said.

DeVos said schools must fully open and be fully operational to best serve students. She said local leaders are the best to make the plans for their area’s schools. Citing the American Academy of Pediatric guidance, she said everyone should have the goal of starting students physically in classrooms.

“Fully open and operational means that students need a full year or more,” DeVos said. “What is clear is that students in families, and families, need education.”

Dr. Robert Redfield, the Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), also spoke about the guidelines for schools reopening in the fall the organization put out. He said the guidelines are guidelines, not rules, and that some areas will have to do things differently.

“We recognize that there is a variety of unique circumstances with different school districts and so we have outline a number of strategies that those schools and administrators can used to accomplish this goal safely,” Dr. Redfield said. “We are prepared to work with each school, each jurisdiction to help them use the different strategies we have proposed so they come up with the optimal strategy for those schools. I think it is critical and I would be personally very disappointed in me and my agency if I saw individuals using these guidelines as a rationale for not reopening our schools.”

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