Birx warns holdout states about social distancing

Birx warns holdout states about social distancing
© getty: White House Coronavirus Response Coordinator Dr. Deborah Birx

Every state needs to follow social distancing guidelines for the U.S. to successfully fight the coronavirus, White House coronavirus task force coordinator Deborah Birx said Thursday.

Despite the relative success of some states for "flattening the curve" of infections, Birx said that outlier states put the entire country in danger. 

"We're only as strong as every community, every county, every state, every American following the guidelines to a T," Birx said. "And I can tell by the curve and as it is today that not every American is following it."

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Many state and local governments around the country have closed schools and businesses and mandated social distancing measures, which experts say is key to slowing the spread of the virus and preventing an influx of patients from overwhelming the health care system. 

But some states have refused to tell people to stay home, and there is a growing concern that some of the most recent states to issue such orders acted too late

Earlier this week, Birx and Anthony FauciAnthony FauciNorth Carolina couple married 50 years dies minutes apart of coronavirus holding hands As virus pummels US, Europe sees its own spike Democratic chairman says White House blocked FDA commissioner from testifying MORE said the country needs to be prepared for the possibility that 100,000 people could die as a result of the coronavirus.

Fauci and Birx said models show that measures such as social distancing can bring down the infection curve and prevent a worst-case scenario — but only if they are rigorously followed.

From the White House podium on Thursday, Birx exhorted every American to follow the White House guidelines on social distancing, which Trump said will last at least through the end of the month.

"This is really a call to action. We see Spain, we see Italy, we see France ... beginning to bend their curve ... we can bend ours, but it means everybody has to take that same responsibility as Americans," Birx said.

Birx acknowledged that keeping up with social distancing measures is not easy, but it will save lives.

"One death from this is one death too many," Birx said. "Every American has to make these changes, and I know they're really hard. We're all trying to protect each other, and we're all trying to adapt to this new reality that we're in right now."