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(Pix11) – White House coronavirus task force leader Dr. Deborah Birx said widespread coronavirus infections in urban and rural America mark a “new phase” for the pandemic as she doubled down on calls to wear face masks and observe social distancing measures.

“What we are seeing today is different from March and April. It is extraordinarily widespread,” Birx, speaking on CNN’s “State of the Union” Sunday morning, said.

The United States has the world’s biggest number of cases at 4.6 million, or one-quarter of the total, and 154,361 deaths.

Birx said mitigation efforts across the west and the south are beginning to work but warned that people need to take the virus seriously and employ significant safety precautions when cases first begin to tick up.

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