Dr. Deborah Birx, President Trump’s coronavirus response coordinator, warned the nation’s governors on a conference call that 70 coronavirus testing sites had been destroyed amid widespread protests in the wake of the death of George Floyd.
During the Monday call, a recording of which was obtained by the Daily Beast, Birx said governors should “scramble now to make sure there is testing available in urban areas.” Vice President Mike Pence, the head of the White House coronavirus task force, said that spikes in cases stemming from the unrest are “an issue our team is following and there is a concern.”
Birx’s comments mirror those of Dr. Anthony Fauci, who has raised concerns that the protests could lead to a spike in cases. “It’s a perfect set up for further spread of the virus in the sense of creating these blips which might turn into some surges,” Fauci admitted on local D.C. radio station WTOP last week.
Members of the Washington, D.C., National Guard have already tested positive for coronavirus since being deployed on May 31 to help deal with mass demonstrations and rioting in the nation’s capitol.
Data shows that Texas, California, Oregon, North and South Carolina, Mississippi, Utah, Arkansas, and Arizona have all seen sharp increases in coronavirus hospitalizations since Memorial Day weekend, as states have begun to open up following months of lockdowns.
“There is active community spread in California, North Carolina, Utah, and Arizona,” Birx said on the call, adding that her team had seen evidence of community spread in “metro Hispanic neighborhoods.”