If you thought the coronavirus lockdown last spring was oppressive or find the various mask mandates to be a bridge too far, then be thankful White House Coronavirus Task Force coordinator Deborah Birx's hopes did not come true.
Birx said Monday that she wished the United States had gone into a lockdown that looked like the one Italy's government imposed: A lockdown that forced Italians to remain in their homes for days or weeks at a time — except for "essential" activities.
What did she say?
During a roundtable COVID-19 discussion led by Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson (R) on Monday, CNN reported, Birx shared what she had learned as the task force continued to monitor and make recommendations as the pandemic spread across the U.S.
One thing that stood out to her was how Americans reacted to restrictions and what they would put up with to fight the spread of the virus. She went on to lament that the country was not able to implement a lockdown like the one in Italy.
"I wish that when we went into lockdown, we looked like Italy," she said.
What was so great about the Italy lockdown, at least in Birx's mind? It was strict, as in you-have-to-have-a-special-certificate-to-be-out kind of strict.
"When Italy locked down, I mean, people weren't allowed out of their houses," Birx said. "And they couldn't come out but once every two weeks to buy groceries for one hour, and they had to have a certificate that said they were allowed."
Then she noted the obvious difference between Italians and Americans.
"Americans don't react well to that kind of prohibition," Birx noted.
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She went on to tell the roundtable that, knowing the U.S. can't do an Italy-style lockdown, there are things Americans should be doing and not doing, CNN reported.
Birx praised the moves Arizona made to battle a sudden surge in cases earlier this summer, in which limited numbers of people were allowed to go to malls and restaurants while gyms and bars were forced to stay closed. Also, masks were mandated and groups of more than 10 people were banned.
She claimed that Arizona's efforts "probably" caused the number of cases to drop "by more than 80%," CNN said and added that what Arizonans did could be replicated by all Americans in order slow the virus.
"Tens of thousands of lives can be saved if we wear masks, and we don't have parties in our backyards ... taking those masks off," Birx said, CNN reported.
Italy has outperformed the U.S. on the number of confirmed cases per capita. Since COVID-19 tracking began, Italy has seen 421 cases per 100,000 people compared to 1,667 per 100,000 in the U.S., according to the New York Times. Over the last seven days, the United States has seen 108 cases per 100,000, while Italy has seen six per 100,000.
But numbers of COVID-related deaths are much closer. In fact, since the beginning of COVID trading, Italy has had 59 COVID-19 deaths per 100,000, while the U.S. has had 52 per 100,000. Over the last seven days, the U.S. has had two deaths per 100,000 and Italy has had less than one per 100,000.