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Dr. Deborah Birx, the White House response coordinator for the coronavirus task force, sent a hard-hitting warning about social distancing by sharing a deeply personal story.
Birx recalled the guilt her grandmother carried after the 1918 pandemic, known as the “Spanish Flu.” As a child, her grandmother passed the flu on to her mother, who had just given birth, who then fell ill and died, the physician said.
"She never forgot that she was the child who was in school who innocently brought that flu home shortly after her mother delivered," Birx said. "My grandmother lived with that for 88 years. ... This is not a theoretical. This is a reality."
“No American wants to spread coronavirus,” Pence said. “While the risk remains low to the average American, who will experience mild symptoms and will recover. But for seniors, everyone needs to practice 15 days to slow spread.”
Both Birx and Pence said that when they’re asked by people how they can help, they tell them to follow the mitigation guidelines, which include staying home if you feel sick, maintaining 6 feet of social distance from others, avoiding social gatherings and remaining in self-quarantine if you come in contact with others. But in nearly half of the country, the guidelines are to remain at home entirely except to provide an essential service.
On Tuesday, Birx called on anyone who had recently left the New York City metropolitan area to self-quarantine for 14 days.
Birx said that new cases had been consistent “but not rising more than day-over-day rise.” She said the U.S. could expect an increase in hospital visits as a reflection of the time weeks ago before mitigation efforts were in place.
Birx said that even in New York City the number of new cases had remained “constant” over the last three days. She called on those in New York City in particular to continue to do their part to slow the spread.
Fox News' Kristina Biddle contributed to this report.