Dr. Birx Says States Seeing 'Dramatic Decline' In Percent of Coronavirus Positive Cases As Reopening Gets Underway

White House coronavirus task force coordinator Dr. Deborah Birx says there has been "a dramatic decline across the states" in the percent of coronavirus positive cases.

At a press conference on Friday, Birx said there have been "significant declines week over week" in new COVID-19 cases.

The U.S. has reported a total of 1,588,322 confirmed cases of the new coronavirus and 95, 276 deaths, according to a tracker from Johns Hopkins University. Nearly 19 percent of Americans that tested positive have recovered.

Every state in the nation has begun reopening, with Connecticut being the last to join on Wednesday when outdoor restaurants and retail businesses reopened alongside offices, museums, zoos and other outdoor recreation.

Deborah Brix
Dr. Deborah Birx, White House coronavirus task force coordinator, speaks to the press about the ongoing national response to the coronavirus pandemic on May 22, 2020.

Birx said that COVID-19 is still significantly circulating in Maryland, Virginia and the District of Columbia, which is the top metro area hot spot.

The stay-at-home order in Virginia expired May 3, and the order in place in Maryland followed suit two weeks later on May 15. The District of Columbia is still under stay-at-home orders, which is set to expire June 8.

Another metro area Birx said she is concerned about is Chicago. Both Chicago and D.C. are reporting about 20,000 new daily cases per 100,000 people.

The concern over the District of Columbia, Chicago, as well as Los Angeles, is that cases in these metro areas have plateaued rather than declined.

On Tuesday, Birx told a group of reporters at the White House that, "We're dissecting each one of these plateaus and providing daily updates to the task force on what's community spread and what's outbreak in terms of new cases. We study these three metros that are closed and have been closed to understand where precisely the new cases are coming from and how to prevent new infections."

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot said in a Friday press conference the city can only move from each phase of her five-phase reopening plan if there are "declines in case rates, having sufficient testing and contact tracing to track and limit COVID-19 spread, as well as adequate support systems for vulnerable populations." Lightfoot said she is preparing for Chicago to be ready for reopening in early June.

"We want states testing areas where we know there's higher vulnerability," Birx said. All states have tested at least two percent of their population. Rhode Island has done the greatest testing in a graphic provided by the White House, which shows they have tested almost 12 percent of their population.

On the other hand, she says the New York City metro area, which in early April dominated the number of new daily cases per 100,00 people, has seen a "dramatic decline."

Seven of New York's 10 regions have started Phase 1 of Governor Andrew Cuomo's reopening plan for the state. New York City has yet to meet all seven of Cuomo's benchmarks to begin Phase 1. Mayor Bill de Blasio said he is hopeful the city will be ready by June.

The U.S. continues to have the greatest number of confirmed coronavirus cases in the world, accounting for nearly 31 percent of cases globally.

The White House could not be reached for comment at press time.

Correction 6/30/20, 3:35 a.m. ET: This article was updated to correct the spelling of Deborah Birx.