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What the White House coronavirus testing czar had to say about Trump rallygoers not wearing masks

(CNN)The White House’s coronavirus testing czar declined to comment Sunday when pressed by CNN’s Jake Tapper on how President Donald Trump’s decision to continue holding campaign rallies amid the coronavirus pandemic undermines the task force’s message on mask wearing and other prevention guidelines.

Tapper asked Admiral Brett Giroir: “When President Trump holds a rally and there are no masks required and no social distancing, is that the example that you’re talking about when you talk about everybody needing to do their part to bring the numbers down?”

Citing the high number of coronavirus deaths in the US, Tapper added, “How is this not a failure, and how is President Trump leading us out of it in the right way, according to your own words?”

Even as the coronavirus deaths in the US near 200,000, Trump has begun crisscrossing the US in the final stretch before the election and holding campaign rallies, which have the potential to be super spreader events.

Giroir said Sunday that people should be “empowered to know that they can slow the spread and change the course. They can save lives by doing the things we talk about, wearing a mask.”

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Without directly commenting on the President’s behavior at rallies, Girior told Tapper, “Biology is independent of politics.”

“If you cannot physically distance, all the docs, all the public health experts, all of us are really unanimous that it’s important to wear a mask when you can not physically distance, avoid the indoor crowded space, wash your hands, combined with smart testing,” he said.

Tapper again pressed Giroir: “President Trump is doing these rallies. The people are not wearing masks. These are super spreader events potentially.”

“So, again, I just want to repeat what I said. Biology is independent of politics,” Giroir replied.

“Don’t tell me, tell President Trump,” Tapper said.

Trump’s recent campaign events have violated state mandates put in place to slow the spread of the pandemic and attendees have been seen without face masks and not social distancing. He also held his first entirely indoor rally last week in Nevada, which was in defiance of the state’s restriction on gatherings of 50 people or more.

On Sunday, Girior told CNN that mask wearing is a “critical step” to preventing the spread of coronavirus and said it was the responsibility of government officials to help people understand that.

“We always encourage the wearing of a mask, because it is a very important — it’s a critical step to prevent the spread,” Girior said. “And we want people to understand that. This needs to be echoed from the local, from the state, from the public, and certainly all of us on the task force want to make sure that people understand that every week we supply governors with very specific recommendations down to a county level of how to slow the spread.”

He added, “But right now, prevention is certainly the most important step in wearing a mask, avoiding crowds, especially indoor spaces, very important, and hygiene is what we need to stick to.”

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