- The Washington Times - Monday, November 30, 2020

Dr. Deborah Birx, the coordinator of the White House Coronavirus Task Force, said that Americans who gathered over Thanksgiving should assume they were infected with COVID-19 and get tested.

“We know people may have made mistakes over the Thanksgiving time period,” Dr. Birx said Sunday in an interview with “Face the Nation.” “So if you’re young and you gathered, you need to be tested about five to 10 days later. But you need to assume that you’re infected and not go near your grandparents and aunts and others without a mask. We’re really asking families to even mask indoors if they chose to gather during Thanksgiving and others went across the country or even into the next state.”

The doctor was asked by CBS host Margaret Brennan whether she agreed with fellow task force member Dr. Anthony Fauci, who suggested earlier Sunday that places where people commonly gather, such as bars and restaurants, should be closed over schools, and that children should be back in the classroom as soon as possible. Dr. Birx said she agreed that private businesses such as restaurants and bars should be closed if social distancing and masking guidelines can’t be met.

“First, what we do know works is mask mandates, mask requirements,” she said. “In states that did those or mayors or counties that did that, we can see a really significant difference in not only cases, but hospitalizations and fatalities. And so starting with mask mandates and masking requirements absolutely key, followed by if you have high case numbers and you’re seeing increased hospitalizations, the first thing you should do is close spaces where people cannot wear a mask. And we know where that is. That’s bars and indoor restaurants. Reduce capacity if needed. You may have to even close them.

“We have seen that that works,” she continued. “That’s what Arizona did. And that’s where Arizona got control. Arizona is in the position that they need to be really considering this again, because their case numbers are up where they were in the summer.”

Speaking directly to the public, Dr. Birx repeated her call for travelers and people who gathered over the past week to get tested for the coronavirus.

“To every American, I know we have some incredibly independent and fabulous Americans, I’ve met them on my trips, that have spent a lifetime protecting their land, protecting their livestock and protecting their families,” she said. “To every American, this is the moment to protect yourself and your family. And so if your governor or your mayor isn’t doing the policies that we know are critical — masking, physical distancing, avoiding bars, avoiding crowded indoor areas — if those restrictions don’t exist in your state, you need to take it upon yourself to be restrictive. You need to not go to these places. You need to protect your family now and really watch.

“If your family traveled, you have to assume that you are exposed and you became infected and you really need to get tested in the next week and you need to avoid anyone in your family with comorbidities or over 65,” she added.

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