(The Center Square) – Dr. Deborah Birx, a fixture at President Donald Trump’s COVID-19 briefings, met with health officials in Chicago on Tuesday to discuss the state of the pandemic in Illinois.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently released a report that showed what most experts had long said: People with pre-existing conditions face additional risks from COVID-19, but Birx said the data doesn’t mean that states need to change policies already in place to reduce the spread of COVID-19.

Birx met with medical officials at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago and other leaders, including Gov. J.B. Pritzker, to discuss mitigation efforts in Illinois.

The CDC report showed that 94% of all COVID-19 deaths nationwide involved a person with multiple underlying health conditions.

Dr. Anthony Fauci addressed the data in an ABC appearance on Tuesday.

“The point that the CDC was trying to make was that a certain percentage of deaths had nothing else, just COVID,” he said. “That does not mean that someone who has hypertension, diabetes who dies of COVID didn’t die of COVID-19. They did.”

The CDC reported in Illinois that of the 8,064 deaths related to COVID-19, fewer than 400 were attributed solely to the new coronavirus. The remainder also involved at least one additional health condition.

“If you have those pre-existing conditions, you were more likely to have a serious outcome from this virus,” Birx said. “All the CDC has done is that it is not only true in Europe, but it is true in America.”

Birx added there are 80 to 100 million Americans who have an underlying condition raises their risk.

Birx said she was primarily concerned with the rural areas in Illinois that have reported a spike in cases. She recommended social distancing and mask use over the Labor Day weekend.

“We’re seeing that the majority of community spread now is happening at the neighborhood and family-gathering level,” Birx said.

Staff Reporter

Kevin Bessler reports on statewide issues in Illinois for the Center Square. He has over 30 years of experience in radio news reporting throughout the Midwest.