BLACKSBURG, Virginia – On Wednesday, Dr. Deborah Birx – a key part of the Trump Administration’s vaulted Coronavirus task force – arrived in Blacksburg to meet with state and local officials, faculty, students and health care professionals on the Virginia Tech campus to discuss Covid-19 and the response to reopening schools safely.
During a brief press conference, the White House coronavirus response coordinator had high praise for the school as she stated that a great amount of research had been done at the facility including animal and waste water testing to better understand the asymptomatic spread rate of the virus.
In addition, according to Birx, vaccines are being developed and tested on site.
Dr. Birx stated that in March, she had reached out to many research facilities to find a solution to curb the spread of Covid-19, but only a few agreed to halt their regular schedule to accommodate her request.
Birx heralded Virginia Tech as one of universities to answer the call and referred to Tech’s response as “one of the best in the nation.”
On the road since the end of June, Birx said she has visited twenty-eight states and toured several universities including Kentucky, Tennessee, Alabama, and Mississippi. By working with a vast number of governors, mayors, health professionals and students, Birx said she hopes to compile enough information to “produce a playbook” for most, if not all, states to reference while dealing with the current pandemic.
“Although more work needs to done,” Birx acknowledged there has been significant progress in Hampton Roads and other parts of Virginia when it comes to positive cases.
She alluded to the dedication of mask wearing and the continuing effort to practice social distancing as a major factor in the decline of positive tests.
Birx also addressed the accusation being pushed by many media outlets that the president downplayed the severity of the coronavirus and didn’t warn the country in a timely manner.
She explained that their team delivered a data driven reaction to the virus, not relying on doctors advice alone. Beginning in March, she expanded testing platforms with President Trump and Vice President Pence to confront and understand the oncoming dangers the virus might present.
Recently, the CDC released statistics showing that only six percent of the fatalities from Covid-19 were isolated to Covid-19 complications alone and the other ninety-four percent had underlying conditions. Dr. Birx addressed this by saying that while six percent may seem like a low number, in contrast, the ninety-four percent works out to around eighty to one hundred million unhealthy Americans. In addition, she expressed the opinion that this should be a “wake up call” of sorts and encouraged people to seek out a healthier lifestyle.
Moving forward, Dr. Birx said the protocol for Virginia Tech and other schools around the country is to implement quarantine and isolation spaces if needed, something Tech already has in place. She also stated that she advised the students on what they need to do to prepare on going home for the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday such as to be vigilant on wearing a mask around older loved ones and frequent hand washing. Dr. Birx praised the students overall for the steps they have taken so far to combat the spread.