Birx: ‘I’m very concerned when people go out and don’t maintain social distancing’
White House coronavirus task force coordinator Deborah Birx said Sunday she is “very concerned” that some Americans who are venturing out for the Memorial Day holiday weekend are not maintaining social distancing.
“I’m very concerned when people go out and don’t maintain social distancing,” Birx said on “Fox News Sunday.” “We know have excellent scientific evidence of how far droplets go when we speak or just simply talking to one another. We know it’s important for people to socially interact, but we also know it’s very important for people to have masks on when they speak … we have to maintain that six-feet difference.”
“We know being outside does help, but that doesn’t change the fact that people need to be responsible and maintain that distance,” she added.
Asked by host Chris Wallace about reports of people becoming combative about being asked to wear masks in public, Birx responded: “What we have said to people is there’s clear scientific evidence now… that a mask does prevent droplets from reaching others, and out of respect for each other, as Americans that care for each other, we need to be wearing masks in public when we cannot social distance.”
“It’s really critically important, we have the scientific evidence of how important it is,” she added.
Wallace went on to press Birx about President Trump’s stated reluctance to wear a mask in public, although the president was photographed wearing one at a Michigan auto plant last week. Birx responded that masks are most essential for situations where social distancing is impossible, and added that “I’m assuming that in a majority of cases, he’s able to maintain that distance.”
Wallace also asked about claims by Trump and Defense Secretary Mark Esper that a vaccine for the virus could be available by year’s end, a tighter timeline than the 12 to 18 months experts have laid out.
“I think what would make it potentially possible is what the president has asked everyone to do in this public private partnership with funding directly to make vaccine at-risk, making vaccine before we know its full safety and what we call its full efficacy profile,” Birx replied.
“We’re not shortcutting the efficacy and safety testing, what we are shortcutting is the normal development time of manufacturing,” she added. “That’s how you can potentially shorten this by four to six or even eight months and that’s what’s happening now.”
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