Trump’s Top Virus Adviser Says Yes To Masks, No To Parties

COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP) — President Donald Trump’s top coronavirus adviser has called on everyone in Missouri to wear masks and refrain from attending parties. After meeting with Republican Gov. Mike Parson Tuesday, Coronavirus Response Coordinator Dr. Deborah Birx said Democrats and Republicans must all wear masks to slow the spread of COVID-19. Birx talked to Parson about enacting a statewide mask mandate similar to one in Texas. Republican Texas Gov. Greg Abbott in July required masks in counties with 20 or more confirmed coronavirus cases. Parson didn’t say if he would enact such a policy but said local officials already require masks in Missouri’s hot spots.

Photo courtesy of Governor Mike Parson’s Flickr Page

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Governor Parson Meets with Dr. Deborah Birx, Cabinet Members, State Health Officials, and Community Stakeholders to Discuss COVID-19 in Missouri

(JEFFERSON CITY, MO) – Wednesday Governor Mike Parson, Cabinet members, state health officials, and community stakeholders were joined by White House Coronavirus Response Coordinator Dr. Deborah Birx for a discussion at the Missouri Governor’s Mansion. 

Missouri is one of 20 states Dr. Birx has visited over the past six weeks to meet with state officials and provide guidance on COVID-19.

“It was an honor to host Dr. Birx in Missouri today and learn more about where we stand from a national perspective,” Governor Parson said. “I want to thank her, the President, Vice President, and the entire Trump Administration for all they’ve done for both the country and Missouri throughout COVID-19. We appreciate their continued support and guidance during this unprecedented time.”

“We had a productive discussion with Governor Parson along with state and local health officials about how the federal government can continue to partner with Missouri to keep its citizens safe,” Dr. Birx said. “The Administration continues to encourage all Americans to slow the spread of COVID-19 by practicing social distancing including avoiding crowded places, wearing a mask, and washing their hands.”

Dr. Birx originally introduced the “box-in” testing strategy to Missouri officials during a conference call, which focuses heavily on testing, contact tracing, isolation, and quarantine. State officials have aggressively executed this strategy across Missouri, particularly in long-term care facilities. 

To date, 468 long-term care facilities in Missouri have experienced at least one positive case of COVID-19 – either among residents, staff, or both. Since increasing testing capabilities, the state has been able to work more closely with facilities that have been heavily impacted by the virus. 

The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS) has now helped nearly 400 congregate living facilities implement box-in testing, and more than 115,000 tests have been conducted in long-term care facilities using this strategy. 

Since implementing box-in testing, Missouri has seen a significant decrease in its COVID-19 observed case fatality ratio. During April and May, more than seven percent of all observed cases each month in Missouri were fatal. In June, that number dropped to less than two percent. It is now less than half of a percent so far in August. 

“Lives are being saved, and for that we thank Dr. Birx and everyone who has worked hard to implement this strategy over and over again throughout Missouri,” Governor Parson said. “As the impacts and behavior of COVID-19 continue to shift, we will continue to adapt to the needs of our citizens.”