'Devastatingly worrisome': Birx says protesters gathering without face masks or social distancing could unknowingly infect high-risk relatives at home

ecranley@businessinsider.com (Ellen Cranley)
deborah birx
Dr. Deborah Birx, White House coronavirus response coordinator, speaks during a coronavirus task force briefing at the White House, Saturday, April 4, 2020, in Washington.

Associated Press/Patrick Semansky

  • Dr. Deborah Birx, the White House coronavirus task force coordinator, said Sunday that protestors who were gathering with no personal protection or social distancing are "devastatingly worrisome."

  • Demonstrators who gather in groups to demand an end to lockdown measures could unknowingly infect high-risk relatives or loved ones at home, Birx said.

  • Birx's comment comes after mounting frustration with lockdown orders as protests were held in at least 10 states across the country over the weekend.

  • The public-health expert also said that businesses like salons and barbershops could be "safer" if everyone wore masks, but still does not recommend their reopening as a "good phase one activity."

  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

White House coronavirus task force coordinator Dr. Deborah Birx said protests against social distancing orders were "devastatingly worrisome" as demonstrators did not wear masks or practice social distancing while gathering in large groups.

Dr. Birx said on "Fox News Sunday" that protestors who gather in groups with no protective practices could infect at-risk relatives at home after unknowingly being exposed to or carrying the virus.

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

Birx's comment comes after a weekend marked by protests in at least 10 states across the country as frustration continues to grow with the economic implications of ongoing lockdown orders.

Wallace also asked Birx if reopening businesses like hair salons and barbershops were safe, which the public health expert said were made "safer" if both customers and workers wore masks, but "we've made it clear that that's not a good phase one activity," referring to the White House's proposed plan for a gradual reopening of normal life.

"I think the president's made it clear when he discussed the case in Georgia," Birx added, pointing to President Donald Trump's slam of Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp's surprise announcement that the state would lift coronavirus restrictions in late April.

Birx also emphasized during the interview that reopening the country is based on federal guidelines that dictate states must have "gating criteria," including a decline in cases or positive tests for a 14-day period before beginning "phase one," which no state has currently.

Read the original article on Business Insider