WASHINGTON, DC -- The White House Coronavirus Task Force announced Wednesday it would focus its efforts on the four key states where half of all new COVID-19 cases are occurring.

What You Need To Know

  • White House Coronavirus Task Force to focus on outbreaks in Florida, Arizona, Caliornia, Texas

  • Pence: Reopening schools is about more than academics

During the task force’s July 8 briefing, members said it would be closely investigating the ongoing outbreaks in Florida, Arizona, California and Texas.

The task force believes what’s happening in these states is very different from the pandemic’s origins in March and April, when experts were tracking outbreaks in specific cities and areas like New York City, Detroit and New Orleans.

“In this case, whatever occurred, occurred almost simultaneously across the South,” said Dr. Deborah Birx. “So we’re investigating that closely.”

Dr. Birx also pointed out that since the jump in cases did not occur immediately after these states began their respective phased reopenings, determining the exact turning point is key to preventing future outbreaks.

The task force also addressed the White House’s controversial push for schools to reopen to in-person attendance in the fall. Vice President Mike Pence weighed in on the issue, saying that the need to have kids in school isn’t just about academics.

“For children that have mental health issues, for special needs children, for nutrition, for children in communities facing persistent poverty, the school is the place where they receive all of those services,” said the vice president. “And so this is not just simply about making sure our kids are learning, and they're advancing academically, but for their mental health, for their well-being, for their physical health, for nutrition, we've got to get our kids back in school.”

Some health officials have opposed the idea, warning that reopening schools too early could backfire and lead to more shutdowns. But the American Academy of Pediatrics recently released a statement more in line with the vice president's remark.