White House COVID coordinator tells Minnesotans to wear masks in their homes

The White House Coronavirus Task Force coordinator told Minnesotans to wear masks in their houses and praised the state for keeping its nursing home residents safe.

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Dr. Deborah Birx, a top official on the White House Coronavirus Task Force, advised Minnesotans to wear masks inside their homes during a recent press conference in St. Paul.

“It really does come down to every Minnesotan following these common sense path[s] forward to ensure we protect each other, and really a lot of that pathway goes through wearing this mask not just in public but also in private if we need to protect others in the household,” she told reporters Sunday after a meeting with officials from the Minnesota Department of Health.

“We’re doing [a] much better job in public and [with] our public mitigations. We have to take those home to private and make sure we’re also doing that in the household,” Birx added as she explained that young people pose a risk to older people in their households.

“There’s a lot of young people who get infected and don’t know they’re infected and they take that virus home to their vulnerable mother or fathers or grandparents,” she said.

Birx also said she discussed how Minnesotans need to “increase uptake of mitigations in households” during her recent conversation with Gov. Tim Walz.

“We know that we’ll put this message out about private gatherings and something will happen and you’ll realize you have been in a situation, you’ve been around people and you didn’t have your mask on. That is the time to make sure you’re protecting others in your household and around you by wearing a mask when you’re around them even if they’re family,” Birx said.

In addition to wearing masks inside, Birx said that “everybody should have their mask with them whenever they’re outside.” She later added that “we gain freedom from wearing our masks and social distancing.”

Birx praised the Walz administration for approaching the coronavirus pandemic in a “data-driven way,” claiming that Minnesota’s approach “has really prevented a lot of nursing home residents from getting infected, and that’s extraordinarily good.”

“In general, Minnesota is really getting testing into the nursing homes and protecting those that are most vulnerable in nursing homes,” she said.

Meanwhile, 1,340 of the state’s 1,823 (73.5%) coronavirus-related deaths have occurred in long-term care or assisted living facilities, according to the Minnesota Department of Health as of September 1.

Watch the full press conference below: