The move came nearly two weeks after Douglas County Health Director Adi Pour backed away from implementing a countywide mask requirement due to an anticipated legal challenge from Ricketts and the Nebraska Attorney General’s Office.
Birx said mask mandates are critical in communities with a lot of cases. But the message she has received from rural health officials is that residents there already are sufficiently socially distant. Mask mandates in such places may not be as critical.
“In the end, it has to be adapted to the community you’re serving,” she said.
Birx also emphasized that masks work. Not only is there clear scientific evidence supporting face coverings but also real-life public experiences.
Arizona imposed a mask mandate on June 20 and closed bars and gyms in the face of significant community transmission of the virus, with positivity rates above 20%.
Now that state is in the yellow and headed into the green.
“To all those who think masks may not be important, we have a very strong evidence base that they are,” she said.
Birx visited Iowa on Thursday and will meet with officials in Kansas City on Saturday. She’ll then travel on to Oklahoma, Missouri, Arkansas and West Virginia, driving the entire way.