As COVID-19 cases spike, Dr. Deborah Birx emphasizes mask-wearing

Dr. Deborah Birx, of the White House Coronavirus Task Force, spoke about masking and other ways to mitigate COVID-19 spread.
Published: Jul. 7, 2020 at 3:13 PM CDT
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WASHINGTON (Gray DC) - COVID-19 cases continue to surge around the country this week as some states remain mostly open after months of lockdown. The White House coronavirus task force says it is working behind the scenes to mitigate the continued threat.

Once a daily event, briefings from the White House coronavirus task force are now a rarity as positive cases spike around the country. One of the leaders on the task force, Dr. Deborah Birx says they are still guiding states in fighting COVID-19.

“100 percent of the American population in those hot zones, in the red areas of the country should be wearing masks all of the time and social distancing,” said Birx.

Birx says it is not just areas facing a case surge that should consider wearing a mask at all times.

“I wear a mask in all circumstances no matter where I am,” said Birx.

Birx says she is stressing the importance of masks to both state leaders and White House leaders.

President Donald Trump is holding campaign rallies, one inside a Tulsa, OK arena without social distancing measures and many rally-goers choosing to forego masks. The president also says he would like to slow down testing to reflect a lower number of positive cases. On top of that, the president is touting a lower death rate in the U.S. as positive cases surge.

“I’m part of the White House and I support the message of every place Americans taking care, wearing masks, social distancing,” said Birx. “I have never recommended that we slow down testing.”

Dr. Ed Ellerbeck, an epidemiologist from the University of Kansas says safety protocols should not be up for debate and leaders should stop controversy.

“I think it’s really wonderful when our leaders lead by example,” said Ellerbeck.

He says masks are good for businesses reopening, and he fears a mindset of masks symbolizing weakness. Ellerbeck argues if everyone comes to terms with safety measures, the economic and health impact will be substantial.

“I’m optimistic that we can potentially do this without completely shutting things down like we did in the past. That was really tough,” said Ellerbeck.

Ellerbeck expects the positive case surge to continue for weeks. He says a drop in cases will depend on how seriously Americans take the threat.

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