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US Coronavirus Task Force Coordinator Dr. Birx encourages mask-wearing, but no mandate during visit to Missouri

Missouri is one of several states that Birx is visiting to "provide guidance" on the coronavirus, Gov. Parson's office says

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — One of the nation's top experts on the COVID-19 pandemic and White House adviser Dr. Deborah Birx encouraged mask-wearing but stopped short of recommending a statewide mandate during a visit to the Missouri Governor's Mansion Tuesday.

"We need every American and everyone in Missouri to wear a mask," Dr. Birx said during the media briefing that followed the roundtable discussion with cabinet members and community and state health officials.

Birx said she did not believe a statewide mandate is necessary because there are counties with few cases of the virus. However, she encouraged 100% of businesses to require masks.

"They are on top of their data," Dr. Birx said about Gov. Mike Parson's administration. "They know where the virus is and where the virus isn't."

Dr. Birx praised the "box-in" strategy that the Missouri health department has implemented at nursing homes and long-term care facilities. The approach involves comprehensive testing, isolating all infected people and locating all contacts of the infected people.

More than 115,000 tests have been conducted at long-term care facilities across the state, Parson said.

Missouri is one of several states that Dr. Birx is visiting to "provide guidance" on the coronavirus, Parson's office said.

"We really wanted to really understand what each of the governors and mayors are doing," Dr. Birx said, adding that she shares strategies during conference calls among state and local leaders.

Parson said  Dr. Birx stressed the importance of personal responsibility during her visit.

"The real big takeaway is it comes down to responsibilities as individuals," Parson said. "We could have guidelines, but at the end of the day, somebody's gotta take the guidelines and say, are we willing to do that?"

Dr. Birx encouraged also people who have recovered from COVID-19 to donate plasma and stressed the importance of participating in vaccine trials.

Last month, Dr. Birx identified St. Louis and 10 other cities as areas that need to get the outbreak under control during a phone call, according to a report from the Center for Public Integrity.

In July, the White House also declared Missouri one 21 states that are "red zones" for COVID-19.

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