Birx Says States Mandating Masks Can Change the Course of the Pandemic

Deborah Birx, the U.S. coronavirus response coordinator, praised governors who have mandated masks in their states despite President Donald Trump‘s resistance to them.

“I want to really applaud the governors who’ve taken decisive action to really mandate masks, increase social distancing, close bars,” Birx said in a Bloomberg Radio interview on Tuesday. “There’s a lot we can do as individual Americans, but there’s a lot we can do at the state and local and federal level to support that response and change the course of this pandemic.”

Greg Abbott, the Republican governor of Texas, recentlyreversed his stance on masks, making them mandatory in many situations after months of resisting pressure from local officials who advocated for them. Virus cases have surged in the state after Abbott lifted many lockdown measures, straining hospitals and intensive care units. Abbott had been hailed by Trump for his aggressive approach to reopening the economy.

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Birx also said messaging needs to change to break through to younger people, who are increasingly the ones contracting Covid-19.

“We can get through this until we have a vaccine, if we all do our part,” Birx said.

Birx said younger people aren’t heeding warnings and are socializing as normal. She said it’s understandable to want to see friends and have fun, especially as most young people who have known someone to get sick most likely only saw mild symptoms.

That said, she added, “there’s also young Americans in the hospital right now suffering from very severe disease.”

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