KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Dr. Deborah Birx spoke with Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly and participated in a roundtable discussion with state health officials Saturday afternoon in Kansas City, Kansas.
The White House coronavirus response coordinator and world-renowned global health official and physician came to the metro to learn about local efforts in the fight against COVID-19.
Birx said she came to Kansas because the state -- particularly the metropolitan areas of Johnson, Wyandotte and Douglas counties -- are seeing in increase in community spread. She emphasized the importance of wearing a mask, social distancing and restricting bars and indoor dining.
"Now is the moment for every Kansas to do these common-sense things," Birx said. "I know they may be inconvenient, but they are common sense. We all can do this together and prevent this spread."
She also said that if everyone does their part, the fate of the pandemic in Kansas can change.
Birx urged the use of wearing masks even though there isn't a nationwide mandate.
"They believe it’s up to the states to do those mandates," Birx said. "You can see across the south, we have seen state after state, whether they are Republican or Democratic governors, and I hope all Americans see this is not a partisan issue."
As the start of school approaches, Birx advised each district to follow local health experts.
"Schools that are in higher areas of spread really need to think about -- and very carefully -- think about whether to increase that potential for spread," Birx said. "I don’t think right now most of the spread that you’re seeing right now is happening in the school. It’s people being infected in the community and bringing it into the school and infecting other children."
Wyandotte County schools will not have youth fall sports over COVID19 concerns. Birx said it's the coaches who can make an impact too on slowing the spread.
"So if he can convince his high school students to wear a mask, to socially distance, to not go to parties, to not go to house parties where there are not masks being used, to not take their mask off when they’re in the groups less than 6 feet, we know that we can stop the spread," she said.
If people wear masks both indoors and outdoors, practice social distancing and not have large gatherings, Birx said she believes Kansas can turn the tide.
"We can change the future of this pandemic in Kansas," Birx said.
Her trip to KCK was one stop on a multi-state tour talking with governors and other health officials on how to combat COVID-19.
Birx visited Nebraska on Friday, and said Nebraskans are making changes that are showing a pathway through the pandemic, according to reports.
Just over a week ago, health officials listed Nebraska in the red zone with rising cases.
She also mentioned cities like Phoenix, which also knocked down its positivity rate with additional closing of bars and gyms, and is nearing the green zone.
Watch Birx's remarks in KCK below: