Amid Rush to Reopen, Birx Says Social Distancing Will Continue Through Summer

Drew Angerer/Getty

The coronavirus is a rapidly developing news story, so some of the content in this article might be out of date. Check out our most recent coverage of the coronavirus crisis, and subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily newsletter.

At a White House briefing room and in a radio interview last week, Vice President Mike Pence pushed the message that the coronavirus epidemic would be mostly over by “early summer.”

“If we continue these mitigation efforts in the days ahead, as states implement their policies—including phased reopening that will preserve those gains—we do believe by early summer we could be in a much better place as a nation, with much of this coronavirus epidemic behind us,” Pence said Thursday at the president’s daily coronavirus briefing. 

But that doesn’t mean social distancing is going away anytime soon, even though some states have already decided to begin reopening. On Sunday, White House coronavirus response coordinator Dr. Deborah Birx said that social distancing guidelines will continue through the summer.

On NBC’s “Meet the Press” Sunday morning, Birx was asked about a statement by Pence Friday that by Memorial Day, COVID-19 would be “largely…behind us.” “This Memorial Day? 2020? Is that realistic?” host Chuck Todd asked.

In response, Birx said that data from Louisiana and Detroit, where COVID-19 cases may have already peaked, “gives us great hope” for hard-hit areas like New York City, possibly explaining the vice president’s comments. But, she added, “social distancing will be with us through the summer, to really ensure that we protect one another.”

It’s not clear whether Birx’s comments will mean all that much. Just over a week ago, Trump was screaming on Twitter to “LIBERATE” states from public health orders. With nail salons and barber shops already open in Georgia and Oklahoma, and Colorado, Minnesota, and Montana planning to ease up on restrictions this week, the White House has so far allowed governors to choose when and how to lift social distancing guidelines.  

DEMOCRACY DOES NOT EXIST...

without free and fair elections, a vigorous free press, and engaged citizens to reclaim power from those who abuse it.

In this election year unlike any other—against a backdrop of a pandemic, an economic crisis, racial reckoning, and so much daily bluster—Mother Jones' journalism is driven by one simple question: Will America move closer to, or further from, justice and equity in the years to come?

If you're able to, please join us in this mission with a donation today. Our reporting right now is focused on voting rights and election security, corruption, disinformation, racial and gender equity, and the climate crisis. We can’t do it without the support of readers like you, and we need to give it everything we've got between now and November. Thank you.

DEMOCRACY DOES NOT EXIST...

without free and fair elections, a vigorous free press, and engaged citizens to reclaim power from those who abuse it.

In this election year unlike any other—against a backdrop of a pandemic, an economic crisis, racial reckoning, and so much daily bluster—Mother Jones' journalism is driven by one simple question: Will America move closer to, or further from, justice and equity in the years to come?

If you're able to, please join us in this mission with a donation today. Our reporting right now is focused on voting rights and election security, corruption, disinformation, racial and gender equity, and the climate crisis. We can’t do it without the support of readers like you, and we need to give it everything we've got between now and November. Thank you.

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate