On TV and computer screens across the country, Dr. Deborah Birx has been an ever-present figure in the fight against Covid-19, and Saturday---a day after Utah’s record-breaking report on new coronavirus infections---she made a pointed plea to Utah families to “limit interactions,” and urged state leaders to launch a new strategy over testing.
“We know families are so important in Utah,” said Dr. Birx, White House Coronavirus Task Force coordinator, in an exclusive 2News interview. “We are really asking people of Utah for the next few weeks to limit interactions, either in public spaces or in your own house to your household members. We have to get control of this spread before it gets colder.”
“So are you saying families should not get together with their extended family members for Thanksgiving?” 2News asked.
“We should do it two and three weeks at a time,” she replied. “Let’s just take the next two to three weeks up to Thanksgiving and see where we are.”
Birx commended Utah for giving more than a million tests, but said the state also needs to require testing in certain sectors, even if people are not showing symptoms.
FULL EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW WITH DR. DEBORAH BIRX:
She urged once a week tests for “hospital personnel, county employees, K-12 teachers, community college students, university students,” and added people who work at the state’s largest employers also should be routinely tested.
The federal government, according to Birx, has sent millions of Binax rapid results tests to states, including roughly 200,000 of them to Utah---and she urged those tests be used to launch new required Covid-19 testing.
“I know they (the State of Utah) have these tests. I know they’ve sent them to the local county health departments,” said Birx. “What we’re saying is develop a strategy around these tests that help you find the asymptomatic.”
She said once pockets of coronavirus are discovered in zip codes---including those without symptoms---the aim would be to test everybody in the area.
“And how soon would that be rolled out?” asked 2News.
“I hope Monday,” she replied, adding it can’t happen soon enough.
We reached out to the Governor’s Office on Saturday evening, asking about Birx’s recommendations, and for clarification on her statements.
“Those were the discussions that happened today during their (Birx and Governor Herbert) meeting,” said a spokesperson. “As Monday comes, I believe continued discussions will happen.”