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Report: Dr. Deborah Birx warns that Cleveland, 10 other cities need to take 'aggressive' action in COVID-19 fight

'So this is really critical that everybody is following this and making sure they’re being aggressive about mitigation efforts,' Birx apparently said on the call.

One of the leading doctors on the White House Coronavirus Task Force warned state and local leaders on a private phone call that 11 cities, including Cleveland, needed to take "aggressive" steps to limit the virus' spread, a report said.

According to a report from the Center for Public Integrity, Dr. Deborah Birx, a leader of the White House Coronavirus Task Force, identified Cleveland along with Baltimore, Columbus, Indianapolis, Las Vegas, Miami, Minneapolis, Nashville, New Orleans, Pittsburgh, and St. Louis as cities needing to get outbreaks under control.

The Center for Public Integrity, a nonprofit newsroom based in Washington D.C., obtained a recording of the private phone call on which Dr. Birx warned of the spread of the virus.

“What started out very much as a southern and western epidemic is starting to move up the East Coast into Tennessee, Arkansas, up into Missouri, up across Colorado, and obviously we’re talking about increases now in Baltimore,” she said. “So this is really critical that everybody is following this and making sure they’re being aggressive about mitigation efforts.”

In the phone call, Dr. Birx said local health departments should be monitoring positivity rate closely.

“When you first see that increase in test positivity, that is when to start the mitigation efforts,” she said in a recording obtained by Public Integrity. “I know it may look small and you may say, ‘That only went from 5 to 5-and-a-half [percent], and we’re gonna wait and see what happens.’ If you wait another three or four or even five days, you’ll start to see a dramatic increase in cases.”

When reached by 3News for comment, the city of Cleveland said no one from City Hall was on the call with Birx, and therefore they could not offer much on the situation as they could not verify the report. This comes as the state of Ohio will be under a mask mandate starting on Thursday. More than 1,500 new cases were reported statewide on Wednesday, along with 16 new deaths.

RELATED: Ohio's mask mandate begins Thursday, says Gov. Mike DeWine

On Wednesday, the city of Cleveland confirmed 70 cases of coronavirus in a 24 hour period. The total number of COVID-19 cases in the citys stands at 3,812 with 83 fatalities.

During his coronavirus press conference on Wednesday, DeWine pointed to several examples of gatherings that have taken place in Northeast Ohio that have led to cases of COVID-19, including a July 4 barbeque in Cleveland.

"None of them wore masks," DeWine said. "Well why? Because they had already been spending time together and thought it was okay. Unfortunately, six people were symptomatic within three days and have tested positive for the virus."

In addition, DeWine also issued a travel advisory on Wednesday recommending that those arriving from high-risk states self-quarantine for 14 days. The advisory applies to states that currently possess a coronavirus positivity testing rate of at least 15 percent and individuals both visiting from other states and Ohioans who have traveled and are coming back home.

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RELATED: Gov. Mike DeWine points to gatherings in Cleveland, Ashtabula, Mansfield leading to COVID-19 cases

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