White House Coronavirus Task Force recommends avoiding grocery stores, pharmacies over next two weeks

U.S. Vice President Mike Pence, Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Dr. Anthony Fauci, and White House Coronavirus Response Coordinator Deborah Birx listen during a news briefing on the latest development of the coro

The White House Coronavirus Task Force over the weekend urged Americans to avoid going to grocery stores and pharmacies over the next two weeks as the pandemic is expected to worsen across the country.

Dr. Deborah Birx, the White House's task force coordinator, made the warning during a weekend press conference.

"The next two weeks are extraordinarily important," said Birx. "This is the moment to not be going to the grocery store, not going to the pharmacy, but doing everything you can to keep your family and your friends safe and that means everybody doing the 6-feet distancing, washing their hands."

Related: ‘Toughest’ weeks ahead as coronavirus spreads, Trump says

Her remarks were echoed by Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and a member of the task force, who emphasized the importance of social distancing to slow the spread of COVID-19.

“As sobering and a difficult as this is, what we are doing is making a difference,” Fauci said.

But even as Fauci urged Americans to be patient and let mitigation efforts work, Trump said: “Mitigation does work. But again, we’re not going to destroy our country.”

Related: Surgeon General warns this week will be ‘our Pearl Harbor moment’ as coronavirus death toll rises

The previously booming economy had been among Trump’s biggest talking points as he heads into the 2020 presidential election, but the past few weeks have seen precipitous drops as the U.S. deals with the fallout from the virus that has shuttered businesses, gutted airlines and forced people into their homes.

The number of people infected in the U.S. has exceeded 300,000, with the death toll climbing past 8,400; more than 3,500 of those deaths are in the state of New York. For most people, the virus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia, and death.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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