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Dr. Deborah Birx backed President Trump’s remarks about coronavirus testing and weighed in on the latest spike in cases of the virus.
The White House coronavirus task force coordinator spoke with Fox News anchor Bret Baier on Wednesday about issues related to COVID-19 in a lengthy interview that also tackled the topic of a “testing strategy,” delays in testing results and the risks faced by children returning to school.
(Source: Fox News)
“This time we saw wide virus spread across counties, across rural areas, across more metros and big metros all the way across the south, southwest and west almost simultaneously,” Birx said on “Special Report with Bret Baier” Wednesday.
“So this was an event that we think can be traced to a Memorial Day and opening up and people traveling again and being on vacations,” she added, addressing the spike in cases.
“This is a very different epidemic than we had in March and April, and it will require additional tests. And so this surge and this degree of cases so widespread, compared to previously, does have to be addressed,” Birx told Baier.
“I think that’s what the president is talking about when he talked about yesterday, increasing our tests and having a strategy that surges tests into the areas that we can really decrease as turnaround times,” she said.
Trump’s news briefing on Wednesday was not attended by Birx or the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, Dr. Anthony Fauci. The president reiterated the priority of protecting seniors amid the pandemic, especially in nursing homes and other care facilities.
To protect seniors, we are requiring more testing and bolstering the supply of testing kits in nursing homes across the country. pic.twitter.com/xzc7Sx3MJz
— The White House (@WhiteHouse) July 22, 2020
“We of course have a testing strategy, but really to address these turnaround times will be absolutely critical,” Birx said on Fox News, noting that testing turnaround times need improvement.
Baier asked Birx about Trump’s remarks on children being less at risk from the virus, as he has been advocating for schools to reopen.
“They don’t catch it easily, they don’t bring it home easily,” Trump said Wednesday. “And if they do catch it, they get better fast.”
“I think there’s still open questions there,” Birx said.
“And that’s why the president concluded with ‘we’re studying this very hard.’ I think it’s a very important question that we have to understand. Do children under 10 transmit the virus less?” she added. “That’s what the South Korea study suggests. But I think it really needs to be confirmed here. I think that’s the kind of questions that have to be critically answered. And I think the multigenerational household question is critically important.”
“Our strategy is to shelter the highest-risk Americans, while allowing younger and healthier citizens to return to work or school while being careful and very vigilant: wear a mask, socially distance, and repeatedly wash your hands.” pic.twitter.com/OQPgZZ9bPc
— The White House (@WhiteHouse) July 22, 2020
On whether children should head back to school buildings in the fall rather than continue distance learning, Birx suggested that school districts must “plan and be flexible” while making sure to do what’s best for the children themselves.
“Children that have preexisting conditions that we know are susceptible to the virus, they probably should not be in an in-school situation where there’s active virus circulating,” Birx said. “Teachers that have what we call preexisting conditions that put them at a higher risk or more severe disease. They have to be accommodated.”
“And then the majority of the children. What is their risk? We know from data today that children do quite well with the virus,” she told Baier.
“So if we protect the teachers, we have teachers in the classroom that are protected through innovation. Some people are putting out plastic shields. …. We know all these things work,” Birx explained. “And I think it really requires school districts to plan and be flexible and put the child at the center to decide what is better for the children of America and what’s best to protect the children and their household at home. You know, everybody’s going to have to work through those very specific issues.”
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