Birx says Americans who gathered for Thanksgiving should assume they're infected and get tested
Washington — Dr. Deborah Birx, the coordinator of the White House Coronavirus Task Force, warned Sunday that Americans who traveled for the Thanksgiving holiday and attended large gatherings should assume they were infected with COVID-19 and get tested within the next few days.
"We know people may have made mistakes over the Thanksgiving time period," Birx said in an interview with "Face the Nation." "If you're young and you gathered, you need to be tested about five to 10 days later. But you need to assume that you're infected and not go near your grandparents and aunts and others without a mask."
Birx also said it's crucial to avoid others with comorbidities.
In the run-up to Thanksgiving, public health experts urged Americans to forego large family celebrations amid the latest surge of coronavirus infections. There have been more than 13.2 million confirmed cases of the coronavirus in the U.S., and more than 266,000 Americans have died from COVID-19.
In response to the spike in coronavirus cases and the increase in hospitalizations, some governors and mayors have begun reimposing restrictions on businesses and restaurants to mitigate the spread. Others, however, have still refrained from implementing mask mandates and are allowing bars and restaurants to remain open with few restrictions.
Birx said in places where mitigation measures are not in place, it's up to individual Americans to take their own steps to protect themselves and their family.
"To every American, this is the moment to protect yourself and your family," she said. "So if your governor or your mayor isn't doing the policies that we know are critical — masking, physical distancing, avoiding bars, avoiding crowded indoor areas — if those restrictions don't exist in your state, you need to take it upon yourself to be restricted. You need to not go to these places. You need to protect your family now."
Birx stressed that mask requirements have proven to be effective at combating the spread of the coronavirus, but noted public health experts are "deeply worried about what could happen" with infection rates after Thanksgiving.
Tackling the coronavirus pandemic has been a top priority for President-elect Joe Biden and his team, and leaders of his coronavirus advisory board have begun participating in briefings with federal agencies to better prepare for tackling the pandemic once Mr. Biden is sworn in.
Birx said she hopes to begin briefing the incoming Biden administration Monday, saying it's critical they begin examining data compiled by the federal government on coronavirus infections and the spread of the virus.
"The one thing that we will bring to the Biden administration in that discussion is to understand how they want to see the data because data isn't helpful if it's not actionable," she said. "And each group needs to see it the way it moves them to action."
Still, the Trump administration is helming the federal government until January 20, and Birx said she is briefing Vice President Mike Pence daily. She did not, however, say when she last briefed President Trump.
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