Dr. Birx Won’t Say Whether U.S. Will Shut Down for Potential Coronavirus Second Wave

(New York Daily News/TNS) -
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Dr. Deborah Birx says it’s too early to tell whether we’ll have a second coronavirus shutdown.

The White House coronavirus task force expert said Sunday that the nation will have to wait and see what the conditions are like when an expected uptick in death and misery hits in the fall.

“I want to be very clear to the American people — we are preparing for that potential fall issue,” Birx said on ABC.

Birx stressed that the government was focusing on stockpiling medical equipment like ventilators and personal protective equipment so health care workers do not face a rerun of the chaotic early weeks of this spring’s pandemic.

She pointedly refused to take the bait when host Martha Raddatz asked her whether she agrees that the nation will not have to shut down again if and when the so-called “second wave” strikes.

“It’s difficult to tell,” Birx said, adding that public health officials will assess the success of states’ and cities’ reopening efforts.

President Trump has emphatically ruled out a new shutdown, even though public health experts like Dr. Anthony Fauci refuse to rule it out.

Some doctors predict the second wave will be worse than the first, because it will likely come at the onset of the seasonal flu season when the health system is already overburdened. The Spanish Flu pandemic had three distinct waves, and the second was the deadliest.

Birx did appear to break from Trump on the issue of testing. She suggested that “100% of workers and residents” should be tested to see whether the virus spreads as social-distancing restrictions are eased, even though Trump has downplayed the need for such widespread testing.

“All of this proactive testing needs to be in place and needs to continue to be in place because that will determine safely reopening,” she added.