WASHINGTON — Social distancing must continue through the summer, White House coronavirus-response coordinator Deborah Birx said Sunday, even as some states began moving to ease shutdown and stay-at-home guidelines meant to stem the spread of the pathogen.
As the U.S. death toll from the virus neared 55,000 — the highest fatality total for any country, and nearly equaling the number of Americans who died in the Vietnam War — a nationwide debate intensified over the weekend about how best to balance economic imperatives and public-health needs amid the pandemic.
Some governors, mostly in the South, who have given the go-ahead to reopen some businesses defended their decisions in television interviews, while counterparts in other states, backed by health experts, warned that abandoning restrictive guidelines too soon could trigger a deadly resurgence of COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus.
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