Doctor Deborah Birx, from the White House Coronavirus Task Force, has been visiting colleges around the country to see how they’re handling the pandemic.
After a briefing Wednesday with Virginia Tech scientists and officials, she told reporters Tech is one of only a handful of schools that has marshalled its research capacity to provide a robust testing protocol. “This is an assay that they can use for students but also for the community. And they’re linked in with community needs. This has not happened in the majority institutions across America," Birx told reporters.
Birx stressed the importance of sticking to the basic precautions we’ve heard since the beginning of the pandemic: wear a mask, social distance and wash your hands.
She pointed out, Virginia Tech students returning this fall had one of the lowest positive tests results for the virus in the country. “And so they took those precautions before they came here. We’re asking them to take similar precautions like that before they go home at Thanksgiving because I know they’ll want to see their parents, grandparents and aunts and uncles.”
Health officials say off-campus social activities have fueled the spikes in cases at Virginia Tech and Radford University. Radford cases have declined significantly since early September and officials with the New River Health District have said they expect the same trend with Virginia Tech cases.
Birx argued universities need to stay open. If they close, she said many off-campus students would just stay in their apartments for virtual classes – away from support and testing systems. Birx says the universities that created detailed plans for testing and successfully isolating students for quarantine have had the best outcomes.
***Editor's Note: Radio IQ is a service of Virginia Tech.