White House identifies Chicago, Detroit areas as emerging coronavirus hot spots

The White House on Thursday identified the Chicago and Detroit areas as two potential hot spots for coronavirus cases as the disease spreads in pockets of the U.S.

Dr. Deborah Birx, the coordinator of the White House coronavirus response, told reporters at a briefing that officials are concerned about rapid increases in cases in Cook County, Ill., and Wayne County, Mich. The two counties encapsulate the cities and surrounding communities of Chicago and Detroit, respectively. 

“We have integrated all of our information to not only look at where the cases are today, but how they’re moving so we can alert FEMA to where we think the next potential hot spot is,” Birx said.

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“All of the counties I mentioned, the hot spots are in urban areas or communities that serve that urban area,” she continued. “And I think that’s something very important to remember as we move forward.”

Public health officials have been able to more accurately gauge which parts of the country are dealing with severe outbreaks of the coronavirus as testing becomes more available nationwide. New York City has emerged as the epicenter of COVID-19 in the U.S., with tens of thousands of cases in the metro area and nearly 300 deaths reported in the city alone.

New Orleans and the Seattle area have also been identified as major hot spots.

There are more than 1,400 confirmed coronavirus cases in Cook County as of Thursday evening, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. Wayne County has just under 1,400 reported cases, according to the same data.

Govs. J.B. Pritzker (D-Ill.) and Gretchen Whitmer (D-Mich.) have pleaded with the federal government to provide their states with additional personal protective equipment and testing to deal with the increasing number of cases.

President TrumpDonald John TrumpNorth Korea asking for aid, while denying any coronavirus cases: report Iranian official maintains Tehran has ‘no knowledge’ of American hostage’s whereabouts Unemployment claims surge to 3.2 million as coronavirus devastates economy MORE earlier Thursday outlined in a letter to governors a plan to classify each county in the U.S. as either high-risk, medium-risk or low-risk in a bid to loosen restrictions in certain areas that have hampered economic activity.

But officials acknowledged that such a plan will require additional testing and data, and Birx told reporters such a system will depend largely on individuals not moving from high-risk areas to low-risk areas.

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