LIVE NOW: White House Coronavirus Task Force holds news conference

Coronavirus

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, listens as Vice President Mike Pence speaks about the coronavirus in the James Brady Press Briefing Room at the White House, Monday, April 13, 2020, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

ATLANTA (NewsNation Now) — The White House coronavirus task force is holding a press briefing Thursday afternoon, just one day after the U.S. recorded more than 250,000 confirmed coronavirus deaths according to a tally kept by Johns Hopkins University.

Vice President Mike Pence spoke first, stating that President Donald Trump requested the task force give the briefing on what they are doing to combat the recent rise in cases and positivity rates across the country.

“America has never been more prepared to combat this virus than we are today,” Pence said in his opening statement.

Dr. Deborah Birx spoke next, giving an update on the increase in cases and test positivity.

“It’s really a moment that we want to call on every American to increase their vigilance,” Dr. Birx said. “I wanted to show you the difference in slopes between the spring surge, the summer surge and the fall surge, so the American people know this is more cases more rapidly than what we had seen before, but to also make it clear, like before, that we do know what to do, and we’re asking every American to do those things today.”

Earlier Thursday, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said it recommends Americans do not travel during the Thanksgiving holiday next week to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 as cases of the virus spike around the country.

The travel recommendation is a “strong recommendation,” not a requirement, CDC official Henry Walke said on a call with reporters Thursday. The government agency said it was making the recommendation after many states across the country have experienced a surge in coronavirus cases in recent weeks.

“We’re alarmed with the exponential increase in cases, hospitalizations, and deaths,” Walke said.

The CDC advised against gathering with anyone who hasn’t lived in the same household for at least fourteen days, the incubation period for the coronavirus. Officials said they were also posting recommendations on their website on how to stay safe during the holidays for those Americans that do choose to travel.

Thanksgiving and Christmas are typically the busiest times of year for domestic travel as Americans gather with friends and family around the country. Shares in airlines and hotel companies have plummeted since the beginning of the outbreak as public officials have advised against unnecessary travel.

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