Dr. Birx calls protesters without masks ‘devastatingly worrisome’

Dr. Deborah Birx said protesters who gather without wearing masks and not practicing social distancing at rallies against states’ lockdown regulations are “devastatingly worrisome” because they could spread the coronavirus to at-risk family members.

Birx, a member of the White House coronavirus task force, was asked by host Chris Wallace on “Fox News Sunday” about crowds that gathered at Michigan’s state capitol from a “public health standpoint.”

“It’s devastatingly worrisome to me personally because if they go home and, in fact, their grandmother or their grandfather who has a co-morbid condition and they have a serious or a very or an unfortunate outcome, they will feel guilty for the rest of our lives,” she responded. “So we need to protect each other at the same time we’re voicing our discontent.”

Demonstrations against governors’ stay-at-home orders have ramped up in the past weeks as the economic effects caused by the pandemic worsen and more Americans apply for unemployment benefits.

Crowds of protesters — many carrying guns — showed up at the statehouse in Michigan on Thursday. President Trump last week called on Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer to “make a deal” with the protesters.

Other pockets of unrest broke out in Wisconsin, Arizona and California.

Birx was also asked about whether it was safe for businesses like nail salons, gyms and spas to reopen in states that have loosened lockdown restrictions.

She said it was safer if both parties wore masks, “but we’ve made it clear that that is not a good phase one activity, and I think the president’s made that clear when he discussed the case in Georgia.”

President Trump last month said he disagreed “strongly” with Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp’s decision to begin reopening businesses before meeting the criteria set out for phase one openings.

The guidelines for phase one require a state to show that the number of coronavirus cases has been declining for 14 straight days.

No state has yet met that qualification.


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