MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — One of the country’s top COVID-19 experts was in Minnesota Sunday — Dr. Deborah Birx, who is on the White House’s COVID-19 Task Force.

She was in St. Paul meeting with Gov. Tim Walz and other state health officials.

After having a roundtable discussion with the governor, health commissioner Jan Malcolm and several others, she met with the press to discuss what she thinks is going well in states’ responses to this pandemic and what needs improvement.

Minnesota was the 23rd stop in Birx’s countrywide tour.

Birx said Minnesota’s biggest strength in comprehensive testing we have for our nursing homes and long term care facilities, protecting the most vulnerable. She said there needs to be improvement in the way rural Minnesota communities address the spread of the virus.

Birx said she makes a point in every state to stop in our urban and rural restaurants and gas stations to see first-hand how seriously each state is is trying to stop community spread of the virus.

“We’ve been really impressed as we were eating out last night; your restaurants are very much following the guidelines. We don’t see that everywhere, so that was very reassuring. But every Minnesotan needs to follow the guidelines, and what I mean by that there really needs to be common-sense adaption to everybody’s personal life of wearing a mask, preventing large crowds, the six-feet social distancing and really having the mask on whenever interacting with individuals,” she said.

Birx also mentioned that while she was here she met with tribal leaders from the Fond du Lac Reservation. She said she was impressed with the way they are working to prevent community spread, which is important because she said Native Americans have the highest fatality rate from this virus.

Her next stop on her tour is Wisconsin.

Marielle Mohs

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