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CLEVELAND (WJW)– Dr. Deborah Birx, member of the White House Coronavirus Task Force, told state and local leaders they need to take “aggressive” steps against COVID-19 in 11 major cities, according to a report from the Center for Public Integrity on Wednesday.

Her warning came during a private phone call on Wednesday. She named Baltimore, Cleveland, Columbus, Indianapolis, Las Vegas, Miami, Minneapolis, Nashville, New Orleans, Pittsburgh and St. Louis as cities seeing increased positivity rates in coronavirus testing, the Center for Public Integrity said.

FOX 8 reached out to the office of Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson for comment.

“When you first see that increase in test positivity, that is when to start the mitigation efforts,” Birx said, according to the Center 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.”

As of Tuesday, there were 3,743 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 83 fatalities in Cleveland residents since the outbreak began, according to the Cleveland Department of Public Health. The average age of the deceased is 74 years old.

The city health department said 14 percent of cases have been hospitalized.

On Monday, Cleveland City Council authorized penalties for non-compliance with Jackson’s mask mandate. For complaints about businesses, call the Cleveland Department of Public Health at 216-857-7165. For complaints about individuals or private residences, call the Cleveland Division of Police non-emergency line at 216-621-1234.

People are required to wear face coverings in public places in the city, under the mayor’s July 3 order.

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