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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – The Coordinator for the White House Coronavirus Task Force came to Tennessee Monday stressing masks, staying out of bars, and saying that COVID-19 is increasing everywhere including rural areas.

“Basically I have come to Tennessee as I have to Indiana, Ohio, and Kentucky because of the spread of the virus in this area,” said Dr. Deborah Birx.

Along with Governor Bill Lee and Nashville’s top officials at Tennessee’s National Guard headquarters, Dr. Birx spent nearly four hours talking with them about the state’s increasing COVID-19 rates.

“So every Tennessean today in order to get back to school, in order for our businesses to stay open, every Tennessean whether you live in a rural area, suburban, or urban area, you need to wear a mask,” she told reporters.

While COVID-19 is in all of the state’s rural counties, there’s been plenty of events outside metro areas where barely anyone was wearing masks, but there was more in her message she stressed is based on data.

“Stop going to bars, indeed close the bars and limit your indoor dining and if you wash your hands and social distance, you can have as big an impact as sheltering in place,” added Dr. Birx.

Governor Lee has resisted a statewide mask mandate, preferring that it come from local or county mayors.

“People wear masks because they believe there is reason to do so and I believe they will increasingly understand that as their local officials for example advocate for that,” said the governor.

All this as educators scramble to determine the best way to begin educating kids again.
On Tuesday, the governor plans to unveil more guidance for the opening of Tennessee K-12 schools. 

The governor reiterated today that nothing is off the table to fight the coronavirus, but said it would not include closing the economy back down.