A top White House official tasked with tackling the coronavirus pandemic said that those who failed to abide by the federal mitigation guidance while protesting against lockdown measures were engaging in "devastatingly worrisome" behaviour.
White House Coronavirus Task Force coordinator Deborah Birx said on Sunday that it was "devastatingly worrisome" that those who protested at state Capitols demanding resumption of normal life didn't wear masks or keep social distance, as they should have been doing according to the White House's guidelines aimed at containing the spread of the virus, Xinhua news agency reported.
Protestors risking spread of infection
Speaking on Fox News, Birx warned that in doing so the protesters risked transmitting the contagion to their relatives who are vulnerable to the disease. "It's devastatingly worrisome to me personally because if they go home and they infect their grandmother or grandfather who has a comorbid condition and they have a serious or very unfortunate outcome they will feel guilty for the rest of their lives," she said. "So we need to protect each other at the same time as we're voicing our discontent."
Birx's remarks came as protests against stay-at-home orders were taking place in several states demanding the reopening of the economy, a process a number of states have already started but is still at the initial phase.
Masks could make life easier
Asked whether it was safe for businesses such as hair salons to reopen for the time being, Birx said it was "safer" if the barber and the customer both wore masks.
She added, however, that it was "clear that that's not a good phase one activity", referring to the four-phase gradual reopening that the White House previously unveiled. The US currently accounts for the highest number of COVID-19 cases and deaths in the world.
As of Monday, there were 1,158,040 cases, with 67,682 deaths, according to the Johns Hopkins University.