Millennials Are ‘Core Group’ That Will Stop Coronavirus Spread: White House

March 17, 2020 Updated: March 17, 2020

The White House Coronavirus Response Coordinator Debbie Birx singled out millennials on Monday at a press conference announcing new coronavirus guidelines, saying that millennials are the “core group that will stop this virus.”

“I want to speak to purely to our largest generation now, our millennials. I’m the mother of two millennials,” Birx said. “They are the core group that will stop this virus. They are the group that communicates successfully, independent of picking up a phone.

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Coronavirus Response Coordinator Dr. Deborah Birx speaks as US President Donald Trump looks on during a press briefing at the White House in Washington, on March 16, 2020. (Brendan Smialowski/AFP via Getty Images)

“They intuitively know how to contact each other without being in large social gatherings. We are asking all of them to hold their gatherings to under 10 people, not just in bars and restaurants, but in homes,” she added.

“They’re the ones that are out and about, and they’re the most likely to be in social gatherings and they’re the most likely to be the least symptomatic,” she also said. “There are more millennials now than any other cohort and they can help us at this moment.”

Birx said if Americans followed the new guidelines from the White House Coronavirus Task Force for slowing the spread of the virus that causes COVID-19 (pdf), the United States would see a dramatic difference in the outbreak’s trajectory.

Moving to speak to the general public, Birx said, “We really want people to be separated at this time.”

“To be able to address this virus comprehensively, that we cannot see, for which we don’t have a vaccine or a therapeutic, the only thing we have right now is the amazing ingenuity and compassion of the American people.

“We’re appealing to all Americans to take these steps, to protect each other and to ensure that the virus doesn’t spread,” Birx said. “These guidelines are very specific. They are very detailed. They will only work if every American takes this together to heart and responds as one nation and one people to stop the spread of this virus.”

President Donald Trump said at the press conference that “if we [the United States] do a really good job,” deaths due to COVID-19 can be greatly diminished compared to if no actions were taken, and the coronavirus outbreak could be estimated to “wash over” around July, August, or slightly beyond. Trump added that authorities are working to bring the situation to a “best case, not a worst case” scenario.

Alongside good hygiene practices, the guidelines advocate for older people and those who have a serious underlying health condition—such as a significant heart or lung problem—to “stay home and away from other people.” It also advises people to not visit nursing homes or retirement or long-term care facilities “unless to provide critical assistance.”

The guidelines say people should stay home if they feel sick or if their children feel sick, and “keep the entire household at home” if someone in the household has tested positive for the coronavirus.

The guidelines also recommend to “work or engage in schooling from home whenever possible,” and “avoid social gatherings in groups of more than 10 people.”

It also advises against eating or drinking at bars, restaurants and food courts, and instead to “use drive-thru, pickup, or delivery options.” People should also “avoid discretionary travel, shopping trips, and social visits.”

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, acknowledged on Monday that some people may consider the guidelines too extreme, but he asserted that they “were well thought out.”

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Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Anthony Fauci at a news briefing at the White House in Washington, on March 16, 2020. (Reuters/Leah Millis)

“The thing that I want to reemphasize and I say it over and over again, when you are dealing with an emerging infectious disease outbreak, you are always behind where you think you are, if you think that today reflects where you really are,” he said.

“Therefore, it will always seem that the best way to address it would be to do something that looks like it might be an overreaction,” Fauci added. “It isn’t an overreaction. It’s a reaction that we feel is commensurate, which is actually reality.

“Take a look at the guidelines. We hope that the people of the United States will take them very seriously, because they will fail if people don’t adhere to them.

“We have to have, as a whole country, cooperate and collaborate to make sure these get done,” he said.

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