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WATCH: Dr. Birx Calls Close-Quarters, Maskless Protests ‘Devastatingly Worrisome’
Deborah Birx, coronavirus response coordinator, speaks during a Coronavirus Task Force news conference at the White House in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Thursday, April 2, 2020.
Photo by Kevin Dietsch/UPI/Bloomberg via Getty Images

On Sunday, Dr. Deborah Birx of the White House Coronavirus Task Force appeared on “Fox News Sunday” with Chris Wallace. Among the topics discussed were the recent protests at the Michigan state Capitol in which a glut of demonstrators gathered inside without face coverings.

“Big crowds of protesters that went into the Michigan state Capitol without masks massing together in close quarters,” Wallace stated. “I’m not asking you about their First Amendment right to protest, that of course they have, but from a public health standpoint, is that safe?”

Birx replied:

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

Wallace also asked Birx about various reopenings taking place across the country, and what activities are safe.

“When you leave it up to individual governors, and governors are not observing the two-week decline before they open, that sends a very mixed message to a lot of those individuals you’re talking about appealing to,” Wallace stated.

The anchor then played a clip from fellow task force member Dr. Anthony Fauci in which Fauci said that governors cannot simply “leap over things and get into a situation where you’re really tempting a rebound.”

Wallace asked Birx if she agrees with Fauci’s assessment regarding certain governments “jumping the guidelines.”

Birx responded:

We made it very clear that the guidelines are based on very strong evidence and data, and that is the way Dr. Fauci is also driven – we want to make sure that every individual, every employer, and every person knows how to keep themselves safe in this situation.

We’ve made it clear what the gating criteria is, and we’ve asked every governor – because I know they’re also concerned about every single person in their state – we’ve asked every governor to post on their website and on a dashboard where exactly they are in the gating criteria, but also to make all the information available to the public, and to have … sophisticated sites like Florida does and many other, like Massachusetts [does], so people can see where the virus is in their community because an educated community can really take action to understand how to protect themselves.

Wallace followed up by engaging Birx in a “lightning round” about activities that are safe or not safe.

“First of all, California, where this past week thousands of people were massing on beaches in very close quarters. Simple question: is that safe?” Wallace asked.

“If it’s done with social distancing, yes, if it’s not done with social distancing, no,” Birx answered.

Wallace pointed out that the videos from the beach show that little to no social distancing was occurring.

“We’re seeing a lot of governors opening up things like beauty salons and spas, where people come into very close contact – you’re getting a haircut, you’re getting a massage with each other,” Wallace began. “Question: if both sides, both parties are wearing masks, is that safe?”

Birx noted that it’s “safer,” but also suggested that getting a haircut or going to a spa is “not a good phase one activity.”

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