BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - White House Coronavirus Task Force ambassador, Dr. Deborah Birx, endorsed Governor John Bel Edwards' Phase 3 plan Wednesday, Sept. 23 days before lawmakers begin debate on whether to remove certain coronavirus restrictions during a special session.
“Louisiana made changes that saved people’s lives," Dr. Birx said. “Now is not the time to really loosen restrictions.”
Dr. Birx said the task force does not want states to relax mitigation measures, including certain restrictions on businesses, until the statewide positivity rate falls below 3% and Louisiana reports five new cases per 100,000 residents per day.
“I know people are getting tired of this, but we need to get through this fall," she said, pointing to the strain flu season combined with the coronavirus could put on healthcare systems.
Dr. Birx also said restrictions on bars should remain in place.
“It is extraordinarily important and prudent to maintain those restrictions and ensure mask usage and physical distancing," she said. “If we could have bars where everybody was physically distant and never taking their masks off, then that could be a discussion.”
Dr. Birx led a round table discussion with LSU officials and Gov. John Bel Edwards at the university’s campus in Baton Rouge Wednesday. She discussed COVID-19 prevention measures at LSU during the 2020 college football season, which starts Saturday, Sept. 26.
“Don’t create your own bar situation in your hotel room or in the lobby in some unknown place, because you will create viral spreading events that then people will not be able to separate from the game," she said, warning fans to mind social distancing rules wherever they are watching the game.
The doctor told reporters the White House Coronavirus Task Force has learned about the virus due to the work done in Louisiana since March. Dr. Birx said the task force has learned through Gov. Edwards' statewide mask mandate that masks work to prevent the spread of COVID-19, as well as restrictions on indoor dining in bars.
Dr. Birx applauded the commitment of Louisiana residents in practicing mitigation measures, but also said it was important the state continue to ramp up testing for the coronavirus. She also suggested keeping bars closed in areas with higher positivity rates.
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