White House walks back comments that virus is 'extraordinarily widespread': 3 COVID-19 updates

The White House walked back comments made by Deborah Birx, MD, that COVID-19 is "extraordinarily widespread" during an Aug. 3 media briefing

President Donald Trump said "the virus is receding" and that the U.S. is "beginning to see evidence of significant progress" during the briefing, noting the national percentage of new cases has declined 6 percent from a week prior.

The remarks come a day after Dr. Birx, coordinator of the White House Coronavirus Task Force, told CNN that the U.S. has entered a "new phase" of the pandemic, in which outbreaks are more widespread than in the spring. 

Two other federal updates:

1. President Trump reauthorized funding for the National Guard Aug. 3 to help states with COVID-19 response efforts through 2020, reports The Hill. The White House will fund 100 percent of the National Guard's virus efforts through Aug. 21, when the current authorization ends. The reuathorization cuts funding to 75 percent for all but a handful of hard-hit states like Texas and Florida, which will still receive full funding. 

2. President Trump also issued an executive order Aug. 3 to improve rural healthcare through the expansion of telehealth services. The order requires HHS to implement a new payment model tailored to rural communities. CMS also proposed changes to expand telehealth permanently, consistent with the executive order. CMS efforts aim to improve access and convenience of care for Medicare beneficiaries, particularly those in rural areas, according to an Aug. 3 news release.

Snapshot of COVID-19 in the U.S.

Cases: 4,718,249
Deaths: 155,478
Recovered: 1,513,446

Counts reflect data available as of 9 a.m. CDT Aug. 4.

More articles on public health:
Positive COVID-19 tests down in the South, West: 4 CDC updates
21 states where COVID-19 is spreading fastest, slowest: Aug. 4
Number of COVID-19 hospitalizations, state by state: Aug. 4

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