Dr. Deborah Birx: 'Make Testing More Available,' Because Therapeutics Work Best When Given Early

By Susan Jones | November 30, 2020 | 7:24am EST
White House Coronavirus Task Force Response coordinator Dr. Deborah Birx (Photo by BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP via Getty Images)
White House Coronavirus Task Force Response coordinator Dr. Deborah Birx (Photo by BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP via Getty Images)

(CNSNews.com) - White House Coronavirus Response Coordinator Dr. Deborah Birx says she's "deeply concerned" about the post-Thanksgiving surge in coronavirus cases and hospitalizations.

She spoke to CBS's "Face the Nation" with Margaret Brennan:

And that's why we're really asking states and mayors to really test for impact and consider vaccinating for impact. We know who's at highest risk, making sure that all of those individuals are tested. We know people may have made mistakes over the -- over the Thanksgiving time period.

So, if you're young and you gathered, you need to be tested about five to 10 days later. But you need to assume that you're infected and not go near your grandparents and aunts and others without a mask. We're really asking families to even mask indoors if they chose to gather during Thanksgiving and others went across the country or even into the next state.

And if you're over 65 or you have comorbidities and you gathered at Thanksgiving, if you develop any symptoms, you need to be tested immediately, because we know that our therapeutics work best, both our antivirals and our monoclonal antibodies, work best very early in disease.

So, we're really asking governors and mayors to make testing more available, so we can prevent people having to be hospitalized. But, obviously, we're deeply worried. We're over 90,000 inpatients right now. If we have a surge two weeks on top of that, even when we are starting to see some improvement -- I appreciate that you have the mayor from Detroit on.

They're really -- all these mayors are working to decrease their number of cases and getting to a plateau, and now we could have a fourth surge.

Assume that you were exposed, infected

Dr. Birx said every American who traveled over Thanksgiving or who met withpeople outside the immediate family should assume they may have been infected by the virus;

To every American -- I know we have some incredibly independent and fabulous Americans -- I have met them on my trips -- that have spent a lifetime protecting their land, protecting their livestock and protecting their families.

To every American, this is the moment to protect yourself and your family. And so, if your governor or your mayor isn't doing the policies that we know are critical, masking, physical distancing, avoiding bars, avoiding crowded indoor areas, if those restrictions don't exist in your state, you need to take it upon yourself to be restrictive.

You need to not go to these places. You need to protect your family now and really watch. If your family traveled, you have to assume that you are exposed and you became infected. And you really need to get tested in the next week. And you need to avoid anyone in your family with comorbidities or over 65, because now is the moment to -- what happened would have happened.

I mean, we know that people got together in Thanksgiving. The moment now is to -- is to protect those from having secondary and tertiary transmissions within the family.

Dr. Birx said she sees a "significant difference" in the number of COVID cases, hospitalizations and fatalities in places where mask-wearing in public is required.

And she said spaces where people cannot wear masks -- such as bars and restaurants -- should be closed. "Reduce capacity, if needed. You may have to even close them. We have seen that that works. That's what Arizona did. And that's where Arizona got control."

Dr. Birx said she expects to begin briefing the incoming Biden administration as early as today. Joe Biden has said he will follow the advice of the scientists in his effort to "crush the virus."

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