RESIDENTS of coronavirus hotspots should wear a mask at home if they live with a vulnerable person, Dr Deborah Birx has said.
Birx, the White House's coronavirus response coordinator, said that additional precautions were now necessary because the pandemic has become more widespread within the US than it was earlier this year.
The country has so far seen over 4.8million cases of coronavirus, and is currently seeing around 67,000 people diagnosed per day.
Many states saw the virus's spread rise after lifting their lockdowns, and the White House has said it is currently monitoring 20 states across the Midwest, West, and South amid concern over fresh outbreaks.
Speaking on CNN's State of the Union, Dr Birx said: "What we're seeing today is different from March and April.
"It is extraordinarily widespread, it's into the rural [as well as] urban areas.
"And to everybody that lives in a rural area, you are not immune or protected from this virus."
Earlier in the year, the outbreak in the US was largely concentrated in urban centres like New York, but figures show it is now spread much more broadly.
Birx continued: "More importantly, if you're in multi-generational households and there is an outbreak in your rural area or in your city, you need to really consider wearing a mask at home [and] assuming that you're positive if you have individuals in your household with comorbidities.
"This epidemic right now is different."
The coronavirus is known to have a particular impact on the elderly, people who are overweight, and many with preexisting conditions.
President Trump had recently sought to play down the seriousness of the pandemic, but more recently has worn face masks in public and encouraged other Americans to do the same.
A recent study by Johns Hopkins University, which has been compiling data on the spread of the virus around the world since its earliest stages, encouraged the federal government to change its strategy.
“Unlike many countries in the world, the United States is not currently on course to get control of this epidemic. It’s time to reset,” it said.
It went on to recommend that authorities become more willing to reimpose lockdowns where necessary and a scaling up of testing and contact tracing efforts.
Asked whether it was time for the federal government to "reset", Birx said: "I think the federal government reset about five to six weeks ago when we saw [outbreaks] starting to happen across the South.
"That's why we've… gone to very specific state and local – city-by-city, county-by-county – showing which counties and which cities are under particular threat and what mitigation has to be done."
Dr Birx's recommendations follows news that America's GDP fell by 9.5 percent in the second quarter of this year, equivalent to a contraction of 32.9 percent over the course of a year.
Friday also saw an emergency employment benefit of $600 per week, previously paid to 25 million people, lapse amid attempts by House Republicans to have the scheme scaled back.
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