Report: White House warns Pittsburgh, 10 other cities to get ‘aggressive’ against COVID-19

PITTSBURGH — One of the leading members of the White House Coronavirus Task Force said Pittsburgh and 10 other U.S. cities must take “aggressive” steps to mitigate the spread of the COVID-19, the Center for Public Integrity reported.

Dr. Deborah Birx called out Pittsburgh — along with Baltimore, Cleveland, Columbus, Indianapolis, Las Vegas, Miami, Minneapolis, Nashville, New Orleans and St. Louis — during a private call with state and local leaders from those areas, according to the CPI.

Have questions about the spread of the coronavirus? We have an entire section dedicated to coverage of the outbreak. CLICK HERE for more.

However, Pittsburgh city officials and Allegheny County officials both confirmed to Channel 11 that none of their representatives were on that phone call. County spokesperson Amie Downs said no one in the administration received such communication from the task force.

In a press conference on Thursday, Levine said the state had someone on the private call with Birx and other state and local leaders regarding this matter.

“And the type of mitigation steps are exactly the type mitigation steps Dr. Bogen put in place several weeks ago in terms of restaurants bars and indoor gatherings. That’s exactly the type of mitigation steps because of state wide increases,” Levine said.

Among Birx’s recommendations were that officials in the 11 cities should perform contact tracing for those testing positive for the virus to help mitigate spread.

Levine said Bogen has already been taking the kinds of action that doctor birx is recommending.

Southwestern Pennsylvania, like the other cities mentioned by Birx, has in recent weeks seen an increase in the percentage of positive coronavirus tests.

While the statewide percent-positivity was just 4.4% last week, the following local counties had “concerning” rates, according to a release from Gov. Tom Wolf’s office:

  • Beaver (8.2%)
  • Allegheny (7.5%)
  • Washington (6.2%)

At or below 5% positivity is the goal, state officials have said. Anything approaching 10% positivity is cause for concern.

“What started out very much as a southern and western epidemic is starting to move up the East Coast into Tennessee, Arkansas, up into Missouri, up across Colorado, and obviously we’re talking about increases now in Baltimore,” Birx said during the call, according to the CPI. “So this is really critical that everybody is following this and making sure they’re being aggressive about mitigation efforts.”