Coronavirus Report

Birx says state and local leaders should issue mask mandates as cases rise

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Dr. Deborah Birx, the White House coronavirus response coordinator, said governors in several states experiencing upticks in COVID-19 cases should mandate mask wearing in public.

“We believe if the governors and mayors of every locality right now would mandate masks for their communities and every American would wear a mask and socially distance and not congregate in large settings where you can’t socially distance or wear a mask, that we can really get control of this virus and drive down cases, as Arizona has done,” Birx said on “Fox & Friends” Thursday morning.

She specifically mentioned several states in the Midwest, where the virus is likely spreading through travel from the South and other locations experiencing large outbreaks.

Kentucky, Tennessee, southern Ohio, Missouri, Iowa, Kansas and Nebraska are all showing indicators of rising cases, she said. Washington, Oregon, California, Idaho, Utah and Colorado continue to see increased cases, she added.

Of those states, Tennessee, Missouri, Iowa, Idaho and Nebraska do not have statewide mask orders in effect.

Mask wearing has become a political issue, with Republican governors, for the most part, refusing to issue mandates in their states.

In all, 30 states have mask mandates.

Evidence shows wearing face coverings in public where social distancing isn’t possible can slow the spread of COVID-19, mainly because it stops people who are asymptomatic from transmitting the disease to others.

A large percentage of people with COVID-19 are thought not to show symptoms, but they can still spread the disease to others who might become seriously ill or die.

While some health experts think President Trump should issue a federal mask mandate, he has deferred to the states, creating a patchwork of rules across the country.

Republican governors in Texas and Arizona issued statewide mask mandates after rising COVID-19 cases threatened to overwhelm hospitals. Florida doesn’t have a statewide mandate but several localities have issued their own orders.

In Georgia, Gov. Brian Kemp (R) has not issued a statewide mandate and has blocked localities from issuing their own, including by filing a lawsuit against the mayor of Atlanta.

Governors in Nebraska and Iowa, where cases have started rising in recent days, also have moved to block local mask orders. 

Tags Coronavirus COVID-19 Deborah Birx Donald Trump Masks

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