Birx Punts To CDC Guidelines When Pressed On Trump’s Demand To Reopen Churches

Response coordinator for White House Coronavirus Task Force Deborah Birx listens during the daily briefing on COVID-19 in the Brady Briefing Room of the White House on April 16, 2020. (Photo by MANDEL NGAN/AFP via Getty Images)
May 24, 2020 12:40 p.m.
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White House coronavirus response coordinator Deborah Birx pointed to CDC guidelines when pressed on President Trump’s demand for houses of worship to reopen, during Sunday morning interviews.

After Fox News Sunday’s Chris Wallace mentioned the spread of COVID-19 from people going to houses of worship in Arkansas and California, he then asked Birx whether it is now safe to open all houses of worship across the country.

Birx replied that “two things” happened during Friday’s press conference when Trump declared houses of worship as “essential.”

The first thing, Birx said, is the President asking the CDC to “make sure there were guidelines posted” that clearly communicate how churches could open safely.

Birx then added that she “made it clear” during Friday’s press conference that “it’s very important” for governors and communities to inform people of areas with high level cases of the novel coronavirus and to “really ensure that those with vulnerabilities are protected.”

“So although it may be safe for some to go to churches and social distance, it may not be safe for those with pre-existing conditions,” Birx said. “And that’s why in phase one and phase two, we’ve ask for those individuals with vulnerabilities to really ensure that they are protected and sheltering in place while we open up America.”

Birx similarly pointed out “two pieces that are important” during an interview on ABC News Sunday morning, when asked about her concerns about churches being found to be “one of the biggest super-spreaders” of COVID-19.

“I think there’s two pieces that are important,” Birx said. “Before the President made that announcement, he asked the CDC to get their guidance to churches up, so that churches could reopen safely. So that guidance is up there and available to all churches and congregates to understand how to worship together safely.”

Birx then told ABC News’ Martha Raddatz that “difficult behavioral changes” need to continue before mentioning that the CDC’s guidance for churches was released prior to Trump’s demand that they reopen.

“And I think that’s really important that both with opening up America again, those guidelines went out before we stopped the ’30-day stop the spread’ that was again after the 15, which was 45 days total,” Birx said. “This only works if we all follow the guidelines and protect one another.”

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