July 10, 2020 / 4:18 PM / a month ago

White House's Birx urges mask use where COVID-19 rates are rising

NEW YORK, July 10 (Reuters) - White House Coronavirus Task Force coordinator Deborah Birx urged the use of masks among people living in counties and metro areas where more than 5 percent of COVID-19 tests are positive, even as President Donald Trump has refused to wear a mask in public.

“We really believe (in) ...the uniform use of masks in all metros and in all areas with rising new infections, particularly counties and metros with over 5% positivity,” Birx said in a video panel session for a COVID-19 conference organized by the International AIDS Society.

There are 13 states where both case rates and the percent of positive tests are rising, she said.

President Donald Trump has refused to wear a mask publicly or ask Americans to do so, although he has said he would if he was in a crowd and could not distance himself. Vice President Mike Pence, who heads the task force, has urged greater mask wearing. (Reporting by Ankur Banerjee in Bengalaru and Caroline Humer in New York Editing by Chizu Nomiyama)

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