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Birx says 'it's difficult to tell' if country will close again

Birx says 'it's difficult to tell' if country will close again
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Deborah Birx, the White House coronavirus task force coordinator, said Sunday that it is difficult to tell if the country will close again because of the pandemic. 

Birx told ABC’s “This Week” that officials will learn in the coming months how to “maintain openness and safety” while reopening.

“I want to be very clear to the American people – we are preparing for that potential fall issue,” she said, adding that officials are focused on gathering personal protective equipment and ventilators and advancing therapeutics and vaccine development.

“But you don’t see the country closing down again,” “This Week” host Martha Raddatz asked Birx.

“It’s difficult to tell,” Birx answered. She said she is collecting data on whether states and localities are able to reopen safely.

Anthony FauciAnthony FauciHarris: 'Of course I will' take COVID-19 vaccine Overnight Health Care: Biden asked Fauci to serve as chief medical adviser | COVID-19 relief picks up steam as McConnell, Pelosi hold talks | Rhode Island Gov. Raimondo says she won't be Biden's HHS secretary Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter encourage people to take COVID-19 vaccine MORE, a top infectious disease expert and another member of the White House task force, has said a second wave of the coronavirus is “inevitable.” But President TrumpDonald John TrumpBiden says GOP senators have called to congratulate him Biden: Trump attending inauguration is 'of consequence' to the country Biden says family will avoid business conflicts MORE said the country will not close again if a second wave of the coronavirus strikes.

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Birx said states need to improve proactive testing in order to track down asymptomatic cases, which are harder to identify but can still infect others.

“This is why we’ve asked for proactive, 100 percent testing of all residents and workers,” she said.

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

The coronavirus has infected more than 1.6 million people in the U.S., killing at least 96,000 people, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.