White House coronavirus experts said Sunday the outbreak has hit a new phase, becoming “extraordinarily widespread” in rural areas as well as big cities.
“To everybody who lives in a rural area: You are not immune or protected from this virus,” Dr. Deborah Birx, White House task force coordinator, said on CNN Sunday.
She said the virus in August is not what it looked like in March and April, when only large cities and heavily populated states were reporting cases.
Birx stressed the importance of wearing masks indoors if the elderly or those with underlying health conditions are in the house.
A senior official at the Department of Health and Human Services, Admiral Brett Giroir, appeared on NBC’s Meet the Press. He also talked about the importance of wearing masks and avoiding crowds.
“That’s why we’re going to all the states, we’re on local radio, we give specific instructions to every governor by county, what they need to do when we start — when those counties start tipping yellow, because that’s the time when you have to stamp it down,” he said.
About the same time that Birx was on CNN, Democratic Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi was on ABC television accusing Birx of helping President Donald Trump spread disinformation about COVID-19.
Pelosi was responding to a question about a Politico article where she reportedly said the Trump administration is in “horrible hands” in part because of Birx.
“I think the president is spreading disinformation about the virus, and she's his appointee,” Pelosi said on ABC’s “This Week.” “I don't have confidence, no.”
Trump continues to insist that the reason the United States has the highest number of COVID cases in the world — 4.6 million, according to Johns Hopkins University data — is because the U.S. does more testing than anyone else.
He tweeted Sunday that the top U.S. infectious disease expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci, was wrong when he said last week that Europe’s relative success in fighting the virus is because it shut down twice as many businesses as the U.S. did.
"Wrong!” Trump tweeted. “We have more cases because we have tested far more than any other country, 60,000,000. If we tested less, there would be less cases. How did Italy, France & Spain do? Now Europe sadly has flare ups. Most of our governors worked hard & smart. We will come back STRONG!" Mr. Trump wrote.
On Sunday, Manchester, England, declared what it calls a major incident because of a jump in coronavirus cases in the city.
The city council said people should not be alarmed, calling the declaration “standard practice.”
New lockdown measures have been imposed, including banning members of two different households from mixing in pubs and restaurants.
British health officials also announced plans Sunday to introduce millions of COVID-19 tests that they say can detect the virus in 90 minutes.
The tests will be distributed to hospitals, nursing homes and laboratories.
"The fact these tests can detect flu as well as COVID-19 will be hugely beneficial as we head into winter, so patients can follow the right advice to protect themselves and others," Health Minister Matt Hancock said.
Another European leader, Kosovo’s Prime Minister Avdullah Hoti, said Sunday he has COVID-19 and will spend two weeks in isolation.
“I don’t have symptoms expect a very mild cough,” Hoti said on his Facebook page.
Thirteen more coronavirus deaths were reported Sunday in Kosovo, bringing the total to 249 deaths and 90,000 cases.
In Australia, Victoria declared a “State of Disaster” Sunday after 700 new COVID-19 cases were confirmed overnight.
Measures include an overnight curfew starting at 8 p.m. and only one member from a household will be allowed to go shopping and only at a store within five kilometers of home.
“You have to err on the side of caution and go further and harder,” Victoria Premier Daniel Andrews said.
The Philippines will impose stricter measures starting Tuesday after the number of cases there shot past the 100,000 mark.
Some businesses will be closed, and anyone not quarantined or having to report to a job will need a pass.
President Rodrigo Duterte appeared on nationwide television Sunday after a group representing nearly 2 million doctors and nurses said they are afraid the country is losing the fight against COVID-19.
“Our health care workers are burnt out with the seemingly endless number of patients trooping to our hospitals,” the medical groups said in a letter to Duterte.
"I have heard you. Don't lose hope. We are aware that you are tired," he said.
Finally, President Trump is no different from millions of American parents who want their children to have a normal school year, but he may not see his wish come true.
Trump’s 14-year-old son, Barron, will be among those taking at least some of his classes online this fall.
Barron is about to enter the ninth grade at the private St. Andrew's Episcopal School in Potomac, Maryland. The school is in Montgomery County, where health officials have ordered all schools, private and public, to remain closed at least through October 1st when the decision will be reevaluated.
St. Andrew's is considering a hybrid plan that would allow students to take some classes in person and others remotely.