Dr. Deborah Birx warned on Sunday that as the novel coronavirus pandemic enters a new phase that is impacting both those in rural and urban places equally, some people may need to start wearing masks even when they are at home.
As The New York Times reports, the coordinator of the Trump administration's coronavirus task force warned those in the U.S. that the disease wasn't the same as it was when it first started to impact the nation. Initially, the virus was mostly seen in urban areas and ports of entry for travel, such as New York City, Seattle, and San Francisco. This is something that those who live in less populated towns need to take seriously, she suggested.
"What we are seeing today is different from March and April — it is extraordinarily widespread," she said. "It's into the rural as equal urban areas. So everybody who lives in a rural area, you are not immune."
Because of the ability of the virus to spread rapidly, she warned that people in rural towns that witness an outbreak should seriously consider wearing a mask in their residence if they test positive for the virus and live with someone who has a health issue like diabetes or are immunocompromised.
"If you have an outbreak in your rural area or in your city, you need to really consider wearing a mask at home, assuming that you're positive if you have individuals in your home with comorbidities," she said.
The disease has begun to spread to all parts of the country, she says, because citizens are choosing to travel and move about the country despite local and national warnings against doing so. She said that if people travel, they should assume that they have been exposed to avoid spreading to those in their community when they return.
The problem, she explained, is that by the time someone contracts COVID-19 and comes down with symptoms to the point that they get tested or need treatment, they have likely already given it to those around them.
"By the time you wait for someone to come forward to the emergency room, you have widespread community spread," she said.
Beyond these new recommendations, she emphasized that donning a mask and maintaining social distancing continues to be vital for slowing the expansion of the novel coronavirus, which has killed over 150,000 in the U.S. Large gatherings and going out to places like bars is also not recommended.
On the same day, Nancy Pelosi expressed that she no longer had confidence in Birx because she appeared to be spreading misinformation.