NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) - A member of the White House Coronavirus Task Force is advising everyone in Tennessee to wear mask.
Dr. Deborah Birx had a meeting with Gov. Bill Lee on Monday morning. She participated in a round table with the community and state health officials.
After the meeting, Birx asked everyone in Tennessee to wear mask when talking with the media. To see her full press conference, click here.
"Well, I hope if they are a Trump supporter and they live in rural Tennessee, they have heard him say last week that he thinks masks are important and I hope the local mayors are hearing that," Birx said.
Birx added young people who are asymptomatic are spreading the virus to their parents and grandparents.
"This spread however is equally spread across the state, rural areas, urban, small cities, major metro’s and that is what has been so concerning to us," Birx said.
Birx called the four-hour meeting with the governor, "productive." However, Lee said he was not going to mandate masks statewide and felt it was not the best approach at this time.
"People who wear masks because they believe that there is a reason to do so," Lee said. "I believe that they will increasingly understand that as local officials advocate for that."
Tennessee Counties with and without mask mandates
|County||Mask Mandate (yes, no)|
Birx discussed the honky tonks along Broadway.
"If you stop going to bars, and indeed close them, limit indoor dining, along with social distancing wash your hands, we could have as big an impact on decreasing the virus as what we had with sheltering in place," Birx said.
Unlike previous infections in March and April, where it only affected Tennessee urban areas, this virus has spread across the state to the urban and particularly rural areas. She had an urgent message to mayors who haven't imposed a mask mandate.
"Particularly rural mayors, if every rural mayor could mandate mask wearing, let me say this the virus is there, you may not see it today but its spreading," Birx said. "It will hit your nursing homes and hit those most vulnerable to this virus."
Birx said Tennessee is now at a critical moment in time as the positivity rate has gone from yellow to red.
"Very important in time where the test positivity rate has just increased into greater than 10 percent with multiple counties between 5-10 percent... several counties over 10 percent," Birx said.
Birx was in Kentucky on Sunday where she told officials the state has a chance to curb the number of COVID cases in the state.
Kentucky currently sits between a 5 to 7 percent positivity rate.
Birx recommended the use of masks out in public and even in households that are multi-generational.
Gov. Andy Beshear plans to make an announcement on Monday highlighting additional steps the state will take.
On Tuesday, Lee is expected to outline what teachers, parents, and students can expect for the upcoming school year.
Lee said his staff is communicating routinely with superintendents as they prepare to go back to school.
The governor is advocating for parents to have the choice to either send their children to school or learn from home.