Birx: 'Devastatingly worrisome' that stay-at-home protesters aren't practicing social distancing

White House coronavirus task force coordinator Deborah Birx on Sunday said it was “devastatingly worrisome” that those protesting at state Capitols against stay-at-home orders did not wear masks or practice social distancing, warning that they could unknowingly transmit the novel coronavirus to at-risk relatives.

“It’s devastatingly worrisome to me personally because if they go home and they infect their grandmother or grandfather who has a comorbid condition and they have a serious or very unfortunate outcome they will feel guilty for the rest of their lives. So we need to protect each other at the same time as we’re voicing our discontent,” Birx said on “Fox News Sunday.”


Protests took place in at least 10 states over the weekend, with demonstrators calling on their governors to reopen businesses. Hundreds of protesters, some of them armed, demonstrated at the Michigan Statehouse on Thursday, eventually crowding inside to demand Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) allow public life to resume.

President TrumpDonald John TrumpMulvaney: 'We've overreacted a little bit' to coronavirus Former CBS News president: Most major cable news outlets 'unrelentingly liberal' in 'fear and loathing' of Trump An old man like me should be made more vulnerable to death by COVID-19 MORE tweeted his support for those protesters, calling on Whitmer to “talk to them” and “make a deal.”

Birx, asked by Fox News’s Chris WallaceChristopher (Chris) WallaceArkansas governor: 'We take the virus very seriously' but 'you can't cloister yourself at home' Birx: 'I'm very concerned when people go out and don't maintain social distancing' Chris Wallace debunks Trump: No record of massive or serious fraud from mail-in voting MORE about whether reopening businesses such hair salons was safe, said it was "safer" if both parties wore masks but added that "we’ve made it clear that that’s not a good phase one activity, and I think the president's made it clear when he discussed the case in Georgia."

Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp (R) was one of the first governors to announce coronavirus restrictions would be lifted in late April, prompting pushback from both President Trump and Rep. Doug CollinsDouglas (Doug) Allen CollinsThe 10 Senate seats most likely to flip Loeffler says she won't drop out of Georgia Senate race after stock trade controversy Kelly Loeffler's husband donates million to pro-Trump group MORE (R-Ga.), a close Trump ally who is running for Sen. Kelly LoefflerKelly LoefflerThe 10 Senate seats most likely to flip The Hill's Campaign Report: Biden seeks to tamp down controversy over remarks about black support Loeffler says she won't drop out of Georgia Senate race after stock trade controversy MORE’s (R-Ga.) Senate seat.

Since then, a number of states have also opted to include salons in the first wave of businesses to be allowed to reopen, with some safety requirements.

Asked by Wallace whether the U.S. was “past the peak” or “on the downslope” when it comes to infections, Birx noted that “every single metro area and every single outbreak across the country is different.”

“We are encouraged that the New York and New Jersey metro areas are starting to see a decline after a long flat curve,” she said.

Federal guidelines call on states to wait for a 14-day period of continually declining cases before moving to phase one and then each subsequent stage of reopening, which no state has met as of Sunday.