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White House Rep: COVID-19 Response Must Be Modeled After HIV Activism

Dr. Birx at the White House coronavirus presser.

In its latest press conference addressing the spreading COVID-19, also known as the novel coronavirus, the White House has handed down a new set of guidelines. Among them, officials and experts have advised people not to gather in groups of more than 10, and advise states to close bars, restaurants, gyms and other public spaces. The guidelines stopped short of forcing these closures.

These new parameters are an update from even Sunday, when the CDC advised that no one should be in a group of more than 50 people. That CDC rule is in place for eight weeks while the White House's rule of 10 is in place for 15 days. The public is also advised for entire households to self-quarantine if one person is infected with the virus.

But in the presser, Dr. Deborah Birx, who is the coronavirus response coordinator for the White House Coronavirus Task Force, pointed out that though COVID-19 is a new outbreak, ways in which we can address it mirror another epidemic that hits close to home for the queer community.

"As we talked about earlier on, it's silent," Dr. Birx, who is also an Ambassador-at-Large, said in the press conference. "We had another silent epidemic: HIV." Birx is the United States Global AIDS Coordinator.

"I just want to recognize that the HIV epidemic was solved by the community," she continued. "The HIV advocates and activists that stood up when no one else was listening and got everyone's attention. We're asking that same sense of community to come together and stand up against this virus and if everybody in America does what we ask for over the next 15 days we will see a dramatic difference and we won't have to worry about the ventilators and we won't have to worry about the ICU beds because we won't have our elderly and our people at the greatest risk having to be hospitalized."

Of the groups that Birx hopes to get onboard with spreading the message of social distancing: millennials. Having grown up communicating digitally, Birx says that fewer are more qualified that millennials to help halt the pandemic.

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Tags: Health, COVID-19

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