Dr Deborah Birx has refused to rule out a second coronavirus lockdown and reminded beachgoers on Sunday to socially distance and wear masks as they mark the unofficial start of summer amid the pandemic.
Last week, President Donald Trump addressed the potential of shutting down the country again if a second wave of the coronavirus hits the US in the fall.
‘We are going to put out the fires. We’re not going to close the country,’ Trump said. ‘We can put out the fires. Whether it is an ember or a flame, we are going to put it out. But we are not closing our country.’
On Sunday, Birx responded to Trump’s declaration during an interview with ABC’s This Week, saying ‘it’s difficult to tell’.
‘We’re trying to understand during this period of coming out of the closure: How do we maintain openness and safety? And I think that’s what we’re going to be learning through May, June and July.’
Birx, who coordinates the daily response to the coronavirus for the White House, said: ‘And also, I want to be very clear to the American people, we are preparing for that potential fall issue, both in PPE, which is protective devices, both in ventilator stockpiles, and ensuring that we’re really pushing on therapeutics and vaccine development so we can be ready if the virus does come back in a significant way.’
Dr Deborah Birx has refused to rule out a second coronavirus lockdown and reminded beachgoers on Sunday to socially distance and wear masks as they mark the unofficial start of summer amid the pandemic
Birx also addressed Americans who are looking to head to the beach for the Memorial Day holiday. A Parks Enforcement Patrol vehicle patrols on the Coney Island Boardwalk ahead of Memorial Day after New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio warns beach goers no swimming on the holiday weekend
Birx also addressed Americans who are looking to head to the beach for the Memorial Day holiday.
‘This only works if we all follow the guidelines and protect one another,’ Birx said. ‘I think it’s our job as public health officials every day to be informing the public of what puts them at risk,’ she noted and added people need to be reminded ‘of how to be together socially yet distant’.
‘You can go to the beaches if you stay 6 feet apart,’ she said. ‘But remember that is your space, and that is the space you need to protect to ensure you are socially distancing for others.’
She also reminded people to wear masks if they can’t socially distance while enjoying the extended weekend.
‘It’s important that we have to have masks on if we are less than six feet and that we have to maintain that six feet distance,’ Birx told Fox News Sunday.
She emphasized it was okay for people to be outside and to enjoy the sunshine – as long as people were responsible and kept in mind not all carriers of the coronavirus show symptoms of the disease.
Mayor Bill De Blasio’s rules for NYC beaches
New York City’s beaches are open but closed for swimming.
However, wading in the water and surfing are allowed.
Group activities, group sports, and large gatherings are banned.
People on the beach must practice social distancing and must wear face coverings.
Hundreds of police officers and Parks Department workers will be present to remind people to of the rules and hand out masks.
‘You can walk on the beach. You can hang out on the beach, but do it in a manner that is consistent with everything we’ve been talking about,’ the Mayor said.
‘We know being outside does help. We know sun does help in killing the virus, but that doesn’t change the fact that people need to be responsible and maintain that distance,’ she said.
‘And people aren’t intentionally spreading the virus. They don’t know they’re infected, but they come together and they’re under that six feet and everybody who gets exposed to that person less than six feet has a chance of becoming infected.’
Birx’s approval came after New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio threatened to put up fencing to keep people off the city’s beaches.
He told New Yorkers the beaches were open for walking – as long as people socially distanced – but that was it.
‘If you want to walk on the beach, fine enjoy that. But no swimming, no lifeguards, no parties, no barbecues, no sports,’ the mayor said last week. ‘It’s just open space that you can walk on, take it in and then get back home.’
He said he would have the city’s Parks Department put up fencing at entry points for beaches if people violated the rules and have swimmers pulled from the water.
‘Anyone tries to get in the water, they’ll be taken right out of the water,’ he noted.
‘I don’t want to implement it unless we need to,’ he said. ‘But we have to be ready.’
In New York beachgoers must wear masks, practice social distancing, and large gatherings and group sports are banned. While no swimming is allowed people can wade in the water and surf.
Beaches on Saturday were full of sun bathers as hundreds of thousands of people escaped their lock downs to get some fresh air and sunshine.
The great escape came as there are more than 1.66 million cases of the coronavirus in the United States and more than 97,000 people have died from the disease.
The Back Porch, a surfside restaurant on Henderson Beach in Destin, Florida, was full. The restaurant was operating at 50 per cent seating capacity to ensure that chairs and umbrellas could be placed 6 feet apart, and newcomers had to wait for places to become free before they could enter, said hostess Julianna Preede, 18.
Birx said: ‘You can go to the beaches if you stay 6 feet apart. But remember that is your space, and that is the space you need to protect to ensure you are socially distancing for others.’ Beachgoers relax in Cocoa Beach, Florida, on Saturday as hundreds of thousands of Americans nationwide emerged from quarantine to enjoy the sun during Memorial Day weekend
The beaches are open for business again during the coronavirus epidemic. Beachgoers are seen above in Cocoa Beach, Florida, on Saturday
Americans were eager to enjoy the clear skies and warm weather. The image above shows beachgoers in Cocoa Beach, Florida, on Saturday
In recent weeks, state and local authorities in Florida began relaxing restrictions and reopening beaches and public spaces
Bathers jump into the choppy waters of Pensacola Beach, Florida, on Saturday during the coronavirus pandemic
‘There’s a lot of people here right now – it’s a holiday weekend,’ Preede said.
In Arizona, holiday travelers flooded Interstate-17, causing a 15-mile backup on the roadway used for access to some of the desert’s most beautiful canyons, the Arizona Department of Transportation said.
Some recreation areas, including Saguaro Lake, became so crowded that authorities had to shut them down.
While the Memorial Day holiday is on Monday, the weekend leading up to it marks the unofficial start of summer, with Americans traditionally flocking to beaches, gathering at backyard barbecues and unfurling picnic blankets in parks.
Among those soaking in the sun and enjoying a bit of travel on Saturday was President Donald Trump, who was seen golfing at his Trump National club in northern Virginia, his first golf outing since the White House declared a national emergency over the coronavirus outbreak in March.
Trump has been eager to promote the idea that the United States is returning to normal.
Practically empty: The beaches were largely empty in New York City, the nation’s epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak
A far cry from the rest of the country: A man wearing a protective mask walks along the beach in Coney Island, Brooklyn, on Saturday where there were a few pedestrians, a star contrast from packed beaches in other cities
A man wearing a protective mask feeds seagulls while walking along the beach in Coney Island, Brooklyn, on Saturday
A woman wearing a protective mask pictured walking alone at Coney Island in Brooklyn ahead of Memorial Day. Mayor Bill De Blasio says beaches are open but all must wear face coverings and practice social distancing. Swimming is not allowed
In Port Aransas, Texas thousands packed on the beach for the Memorial Day weekend on Saturday to soak up the sun
Beachgoers in Port Aransas, Texas, are being urged to practice social distancing to guard against COVID-19
Beachgoers in Port Aransas, Texas, enjoyed warm weather, clear skies, and a holiday weekend
Texas in recent weeks has also started to reopen its economy, though the state is also recording a higher number of cases of coronavirus
The beach in Port Aransas, Texas, is packed on Saturday as Americans enjoy the Memorial Day holiday weekend
Arlington National Cemetery, which holds veterans of US conflicts including the Civil War, remained open only to family pass holders who must have a face covering to enter.
Access was granted to visit grave sites only, with no touring allowed.
In rain-soaked New York, epicenter of the coronavirus crisis, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo at his news briefing on Saturday discussed his decision to allow up to 10 people to attend ceremonies honoring America’s military veterans, warning that social distancing and face masks should be part of any plans to get together.
‘It depends on how people act. You can have a safe gathering of 10 people. You can also have a wholly unsafe gathering of 10 people,’ Cuomo said.
A banner in support of President Trump is seen on the beach in Port Aransas, Texas, on Saturday
Beachgoers sit in their lounge chairs while eating and drinking beer in Port Aransas, Texas, on Saturday
Port Aransas is located on Mustang Island, which hugs the shoreline of the Gulf of Mexico
The area offers a scenic view of the bay as well as dolphin sightings. Beachgoers in Port Aransas are seen above on Saturday
Heavy downpours kept crowds down at state beaches in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut, which were re-opened with governors urging people to stay at least 6 feet apart, the recommended distance to help stop the spread of the novel coronavirus.
Surprise openings of other outdoor sites thrilled Americans cooped up at home by pandemic lockdown rules.
Mount Rushmore National Memorial in South Dakota welcomed visitors again starting on Saturday, earlier than expected, inviting in admirers of the 60-foot-high granite sculptures of the faces of Presidents George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln.
The US death toll from COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, continues to rise and is expected to surpass 100,000 in the coming days, the highest number of any country.
People enjoy the boardwalk in Ocean City, Maryland, during the Memorial Day holiday weekend amid the coronavirus pandemic on Saturday
Visitors crowded the boardwalks with its various shops, eateries, and other attractions in Ocean City, Maryland, on Saturday
A couple holds hands while wearing face coverings during an outing on the boardwalk in Ocean City, Maryland, on Saturday
A visitor to the Ocean City, Maryland, boardwalk takes a stroll on Saturday while wearing a face covering
An electronic sign reminds visitors to the boardwalk in Ocean City, Maryland, to maintain social distancing on Saturday
Visitors to the boardwalk in Ocean City, Maryland, can be seen wearing face coverings as they take a stroll on Saturday
The beach front destination lifted its COVID-19-related beach and boardwalk restrictions on May 9 and lodging restrictions on May 14
With the relaxing of the coronavirus disease restrictions, beachgoers enjoy a game of Spikeball on Memorial Day weekend in Ocean City
The State of Maryland moved from a stay-at-home order to safe-at-home order on May 15
Dressed in stars and stripes for Memorial Day weekend, a visitor puts on his mask to protect against the coronavirus disease in Ocean City on Saturday
Maryland authorities have prohibited groups of 10 or more people. Several visitors are seen above on the boardwalk in Ocean City on Saturday
Several beachgoers relax in the sun while youngsters play in the sand in Ocean City, Maryland, on Saturday
A local artist and onlookers wear masks on the boardwalk during the Memorial Day holiday weekend on Saturday
A woman holds an inflatable alien doll while a young girl looks on in Ocean City, Maryland, on Saturday
Visitors had the option of getting ice cream or riding the ferris wheel in Ocean City, Maryland, on Saturday
Ocean City, Maryland, is a beachfront area that attracts visitors from places like Washington, DC, Philadelphia, Baltimore, and New Jersey
A woman looks at summer dresses outside a store on the boardwalk during the Memorial Day holiday weekend on Saturday
Despite some crowds, regulars here say there are not as many people as a typical Memorial Day weekend
People line up to buy fast food at a restaurant in Ocean City, Maryland, on Saturday
Visitors to the boardwalk wear face masks while enjoying refreshments in Ocean City, Maryland, on Saturday
People walk past a sign reminding them to maintain social distancing in Ocean City, Maryland, on Saturday
A visitor on a bike rides on the boardwalk in Ocean City, Maryland, while looking out at the beachgoers on Saturday
Three visitors to the boardwalk in Ocean City, Maryland, enjoy a leisurely chat on Saturday
People carry their surfboards on the boardwalk during the Memorial Day holiday weekend
The New York Times marked the expected milestone by filling the entire front page of its Sunday edition with the names, ages and brief details of some of the virus victims and the headline ‘U.S. DEATHS NEAR 100,000, AN INCALCULABLE LOSS.’
The paper said it drew from 1,000 obituaries and death notices in hundreds of US newspapers to highlight the pandemic’s individual human toll.
This week, 11 states have reported a record number of new COVID-19 cases, including Alabama, Arkansas, Minnesota, North Dakota, New Hampshire, Maryland, Maine, Nevada, Utah, Virginia and Wisconsin, according to a Reuters tally.
Iowa had a record increase in deaths on Saturday, as did Minnesota and Rhode Island earlier this week, according to a Reuters tally.
As Memorial Day tempts Americans outdoors, health experts fear renewed COVID-19 outbreaks
Millions of Americans emerged from coronavirus lockdowns and ventured outdoors to celebrate Memorial Day weekend at beaches, cookouts and family outings, raising concern among public health officials that large gatherings could cause outbreaks to come roaring back.
Medical experts warn that the virus won’t take a holiday for the unofficial start of summer.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that people stay home, avoid crowds and connect with family and friends by phone or video chat.
People walk and gather along the shore in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, on Saturday
Businesses, including amusements, have reopened for the Memorial Day holiday weekend after forced pandemic closures
Beachgoers enjoyed clear blue skies and warm weather during their outing in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, on Saturday
Nearly 9,400 cases of the coronavirus have been confirmed in South Carolina and at least 416 deaths
A life guard sets up a marker on the beach on Saturday morning in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina
Bathers keep a distance from one another in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, on Saturday
South Carolineans enjoyed high temperatures that reached the mid-80s on Saturday
People fish from the Second Avenue Pier in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, on Saturday
: People take photos from the Second Avenue Pier in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, on Saturday
Visitors check into their hotel rooms in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, on Saturday
Beachgoers enjoy a leisurely stroll along the boardwalk in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, on Saturday
People cross N. Ocean Blvd. walking to the beach in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, on Saturday
There were barely any clouds in the sky on a summer-like day in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, on Saturday
Cases of the coronavirus reached 359 in the Myrtle Beach area as of Friday afternoon, according to local officials
People break up an argument on the beach in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, on Saturday
People cross the intersection of N. Ocean Blvd. and 9th Ave. in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, on Saturday
Beach Patrol police officers talk to beach goers from their vehicles in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, on Saturday
A shopper walks through a store selling mock ‘Corona Virus’ shirts that show a logo similar to that of Corona beer
Shoppers walk through a store selling t-shirts in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, on Saturday
People wearing face coverings walk in the surf in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, on Saturday
People fish from Pier 14 in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, on Saturday
Dr. Deborah Birx, coordinator of the White House coronavirus task force, said on Friday that people can enjoy the outdoors if they stay at least 6 feet apart.
Birx suggested playing tennis with marked balls, one for each player to handle, or not touching flags on the golf course.
‘That is your space, and that´s the space that you need to protect and ensure that you’re social distanced for others,’ Birx said at a White House briefing.
She also suggested disposable utensils for picnics and potlucks.
Birx said COVID-19 is declining nationwide, but many healthy-seeming people are unknowingly infected, making social distancing, face coverings and frequent hand-washing necessary.
The holiday weekend, which honors fallen service members, arrived amid the bleakest economy in decades.
Tens of millions have been laid off since the virus hit hard in March and forced shutdowns.
Unemployment has reached its highest level since the Great Depression.
Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell warned Thursday that prospects for a recovery will remain unclear until the health crisis is resolved.
A woman wearing a protective mask walks along the beach in Coney Island on Saturday
The amusement park and restaurants along the boardwalk in Coney Island were shuttered on Saturday
A boy walks into the water at the Coney Island beach on Saturday
The New York City metropolitan area saw rainfall on Saturday, which likely depressed turnout at the beach
The usually bustling Coney Island boardwalk is eerily bleak and bare, with just a few pedestrians walking along the iconic path
Orchard Beach in New York is eerily empty on Saturday in the Bronx even as other beaches across the country are packed with hundreds of revelers
Many Memorial Day commemorations have been canceled or downsized, including concerts and fireworks shows. Parks, beaches, campgrounds and swimming pools remain closed in much of the country.
But plenty of popular spaces are open – with limits.
Californians headed into the weekend with both excitement and anxiety after restrictions eased in many areas.
The nation’s most populous state has started seeing a decline in COVID-19 hospitalizations after being the first to order a statewide shutdown.
David Spatafore, who owns Blue Bridge Hospitality restaurant group, was looking forward to Friday’s reopening of patio seating at the group’s pizzerias and dining rooms at its high-end steakhouse in Coronado, across the bay from San Diego.
‘I think people are going to be so happy to be able to go back out and not eat out of a plastic container or cardboard box,’ he said.
‘I know I am.’
In Virginia Beach, Virginia, the famed 40-block boardwalk and sandy shoreline reopened, but with spacing guidelines and groups limited to 10.
A man wearing a facemask walks by Venice Beach during the first day of the Memorial Day holiday weekend in Venice Beach, California
Kids react to a Leopard Shark fished by Annyard Garcia in Venice Beach on Saturday
A Lifeguard waves at swimmers in Venice Beach on Saturday. Los Angeles County officials announced on Friday that beach bike paths and some beach parking lots will reopen and curbside service at indoor malls will be permitted
People take pictures of a Leopard Shark fished by Annyard Garcia in Venice Beach on Saturday
A surfer wearing a face mask walks along Venice Beach in Southern California on Saturday
Annyard Garcia puts a Leopard Shark back on the ocean after catching it in Venice Beach
Cyclists pass pedestrians north of the Huntington Beach pier on Saturday in Huntington Beach, California
People sit at the beach as cyclists ride bicycles on Saturday in Huntington Beach, California
Skateboarders wear face masks as others sit at the beach on Saturday in Huntington Beach, California
In this image made with a telephoto lens, lifeguard towers stand as people visit the beach in Huntington Beach, California, on Saturday
Stay-at-home restrictions eased across much of California. Some 45 of 58 counties have received permission to reopen most stores
A beachgoer reacts to seagulls flying overhead in Huntington Beach, California, on Saturday
Cyclists wearing face masks ride north of the Huntington Beach pier in Huntington Beach, California, on Saturday
A lifeguard stretches while watching the water from a tower at the beach in Huntington Beach, California, on Saturday
A sunbather reads National Geographic magazine while relaxing in a lounge chair in Huntington Beach, California, on Saturday
People play games at the beach in Huntington Beach, California, on Saturday
Group sports such as volleyball are prohibited, along with tents and alcohol.
Mayor Bobby Dyer said about 150 ‘beach ambassadors’ in red shirts ‘diplomatically’ asked people to follow rules.
Without clear federal guidance, state and local officials have been left to figure out how to celebrate the holiday safely.
Social distancing and bans on mass gatherings remain in place throughout much of the country.
Keeping holidays safe is a challenge worldwide.
On the same weekend as Memorial Day, the Muslim world marked the fast-breaking festival Eid al-Fitr.
Dr. William Schaffner, an infectious diseases expert at Vanderbilt University, warned that being on holiday can lead some people to drop their guard.
‘They forget to wear masks,’ Schaffner said. ‘They’re not so keen on 6-foot distancing.’
Jersey Shore beaches are open but there will be no fireworks, Ferris wheel rides, roller coasters, go-karts or arcade games.
Atlantic City’s casinos remain closed.
Some locals plan to sit this summer out.
‘The unfortunate thing is that all the out-of-town people have been cooped up the same amount of time that the locals have been here,’ said Christine Barthelme of Point Pleasant, New Jersey.
‘My family will do mostly what we do on every holiday weekend here: relax in our backyard, have a barbecue and light the fire pit.’
People enjoy the day at Long Branch beach after New Jersey beaches were opened on Saturday
A beach guard removes the US flag off his spot after a day of duty at Long Branch beach
New Jersey health officials say the number of deaths associated with the coronavirus in the state now tops 11,000
Beaches, hotels and restaurants remain largely shut down in South Florida.
The Urban Beach Week festival, which annually draws tens of thousands to Miami Beach for hip-hop and reggae shows, was called off.
‘We saw what happened in early March with spring break crowds,’ Miami Beach Mayor Dan Gelber said, recalling the raucous scenes of youngsters partying in close quarters.
But up the coast in Palm Beach County, officials prepared for beachgoers.
‘Lifeguards and other parks staff will be monitoring the beaches and reminding park users to practice social distancing,’ said Chris Korbelak, public engagement manager for the county parks department.
Theme parks are closed at Walt Disney World and Universal Orlando, but both have reopened their entertainment and restaurant complexes, where guests can expect mandatory masks, hand-sanitizing stations and other measures.
For the hard-hit tourism and hospitality industry, there is modest hope Memorial Day will mark the start of something resembling recovery.
‘This weekend is an early indicator as to how consumers feel about coming back and partaking in normal social behavior,’ said Jason Guggenheim of Boston Consulting Group, which has surveyed consumers.
Data and consulting firm Tourism Economics projects travelers will spend $4.2billion on Memorial Day weekend, compared with $12.3billion last year.
Airlines, meanwhile, have largely written off hope of a quick rebound.
Air travel in the US remains down about 90 per cent from a year ago, according to Transportation Security Administration figures.
Oklahoma resident Seth Rott this week boarded a plane for the first time since the pandemic to visit a friend in Washington for Memorial Day.
Rott said he had little concern about social distancing or safety, given airlines’ anti-virus measures.
‘I think it will probably be the easiest flight that I’ve ever had just because of a lack of traffic,’ he said.
But for most who leave home, it will be by automobile and for relatively short excursions to places like Washington state’s Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest.
‘We’re expecting a bottleneck at some of the popular trails,’ spokesman Colton Whitworth said, ‘especially the lower-elevation ones closer to Seattle.’
At an outdoor beach restaurant in San Diego on Friday, a server wearing surgical gloves and a face covering rushed by with a piña colada in a pineapple-shaped cup.
Another employee stood by with cleaning supplies in a gloved hand, ready to sanitize empty tables.
Customer George Cruz could only imagine what crowds may come over the weekend, when he, his wife and 6-year-old daughter will be staying home.
‘That’s why we decided to come now,’ he said. ‘There definitely will be a surplus of people at the beach.’
‘I just hope everybody is smart about how they go out,’ Cruz added.