Why Dr. Birx Is Encouraged by the West Coast

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Posted: Apr 08, 2020 11:00 AM
Why Dr. Birx Is Encouraged by the West Coast

Source: AP Photo/Evan Vucci

The first coronavirus infections in the U.S. were reported in Washington state and California in February. The outbreaks there appeared grim. One nursing home near Seattle, The Life Care Center of Kirkland, was especially attacked, with 81 residents and nearly 50 employees infected and 34 deaths reported. But, weeks later, those states appear to have gotten the virus under control. 

Washington and California enforced social distancing very early on. Gov. Gavin Newsom was one of the first governors in the country to order a statewide shelter-in-place. It did wonders in the Bay Area.

Dr. Deborah Birx, for one, was very encouraged by the data.

"Their curves look consistently flat and that's been very encouraging to us," the White House coronavirus task force response coordinator said on NBC's "TODAY" on Wednesday.

Because of the "enormous work" being done on the West Coast, Dr. Birx said at Tuesday's White House briefing, they are able to allocate more resources, like hundreds of ventilators, to other states that need more support. States like New York, where the rate is seven COVID-19 cases per 1,000.

The New York metro area continues to be a concerning sub epidemic, but even that hard hit region has some good news. Despite increasingly high daily death tolls, the city recorded a drop in new hospitalizations this week.

Dr. Birx thanked Americans for taking the social distancing guidelines seriously.

"We're really proud of the American people," she said. "It looks like across the United States people are following the guidelines. Decreasing social interactions, staying six feet apart, washing their hands scrupulously, using hand sanitizer, and critically not going to gatherings of more than ten people. And I think the American people should be proud of the work that they're doing."