The Latest: Dr. Brix: Stem Virus Surge So It Doesn’t Travel

WASHINGTON — White House coronavirus response coordinator Dr. Deborah Birx says recent surges in cases in the southern U.S. could make their way north.

Birx told NBC’s “Today” show: “We have to change our behavior now before this virus completely moves back up through the north.”

The densely packed New York metropolitan area had been the hardest-hit section of the country, but the daily number of cases and deaths declined after a strict lockdown. The number of cases has been growing in southern states, including South Carolina, Georgia and Florida, where hospital officials say they desperately need medication to treat the patients filling up beds.

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Birx says it’s difficult for people to understand “how deeply you have to clamp down” with social distancing, hand washing, mask wearing and avoiding crowds to stem the spread of the deadly virus. Birx says that’s why health professionals have “called out the next set of cities” where they see early warning signs. If those cities make changes now, they “won’t become a Phoenix.”

In a stretch of 10 days last month, Arizona health officials reported on seven occasions more than 3,000 daily cases.

Arizona’s Maricopa County, which includes Phoenix, has more than 100,000 confirmed cases and more than 1,600 deaths.

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