LOS ANGELES - Dr. Deborah Birx, the coronavirus response task force coordinator for the White House, mostly praised California’s response to this deadly pandemic.
“California acted very early and really got communication out to the public about what they need to do to protect themselves and protect their families and protect their communities. I think getting information out early was really key,” Dr. Birx told FOX 11 anchor Elex Michaelson in an exclusive interview.
“I have one way, sort of small complaint, is California could improve its public health website because it’s important for people to have constant information and constant updates about the virus,” she added.Dr. Birx said California should model Florida’s website.
“If you go to the Florida public health website, they’re good about doing a count by county. When you have these pandemics, it’s important to over-communicate.”Michaelson tried to ask California Governor Gavin Newsom about the website issue during his daily briefing, but Michaelson wasn’t called on to ask a question.
Dr. Birx is giving credit to California’s approach to research.“Let me thank California for creating regional laboratory hubs.
This is really spectacular and is going to help expand testing,” she said. The University of Southern California is now working with Los Angeles County on a pilot program testing antibodies. Researchers are looking at whether hundreds of thousands of Los Angeles residents may have already been infected.Dr. Birx is urging caution.“For antibody testing, this is a difficult one.
It's not one hundred percent sensitive or specific. You can get false positives in what you test in low impact, low prevalence areas,” she said.
Dr. Birx said first responders and health care providers will be doing antibody tests first since the chances of them being infected are higher.
Michaelson interviewed Dr. Birx hours after President Trump tweeted out a threat to shut down immigration in the country during this outbreak. Michaelson asked Dr. Birx if the President’s decision was based on her recommendation?
“I don’t have a public health opinion. It's an issue that’s much broader, it has to do with Americans and Americans need to work…everyone’s need to work,” she said.
Speaking of the need to work, Dr. Birx had a message for protestors who are asking for the country to re-open sooner.“We want to see people not following the clear guidance of how to protect themselves and the clear guidance of their country,” she said.
On a lighter note, Dr. Birx’s style has made headlines as of late. Multiple news outlets have commented on her trademark scarves during the President’s daily briefings.
“I have no idea what to make of that. I grew up as the girl that carried the slide rule, that got the first calculator and was always a bit of a nerd. This is both shocking to me and very shocking to my two millennial daughters,” she said while smiling.