Transcript for White House coronavirus expert gives updates on US response
We're joined by Dr. Deborah birx from the white house coronavirus task force. Dr. Birx, thanks for joining us. The national committee on medical intelligence first compiled evidence of a cataclysmic coronavirus event in China back in November. They briefed it to the military. They briefed it to the white house. So why wasn't more action taken more quickly? Well, I have to say I wasn't here during any of those events. I was working in sub-saharan Africa on hiv-aids so I don't know the situational awareness around that report. Okay. Well, we'll follow up with the white house later. Let me ask you, though, about this potential threat from the president to cut off funding for the world health organization. Does that make sense at this moment? You know, in the history of the United States and the world health organization, we have had times when we've done really in-depth analysis of what has happened. When the president said he was holding funds, he didn't say he was restricting and keeping funds permanently away. But said instead said let's investigate what happened. Let's see what happened in our we've done that before with previous outbreaks and previous issues that have occurred at W.H.O. So this -- so there will not be a suspension of funding at this point? So we give our contribution annually, the United States is the largest contributor. We always have been. Just as we are the largest contributor to a lot of different multilateral organizations. I think that the president wants to complete an investigation of what happened during this current outbreak, believe me, they already have their continuation funds from last year so this is a year-by-year commitment to the W.H.O. This is our -- this is our required commitment. There's also voluntary commitments we've made to the W.H.O. Through history including over the last couple of years for HIV, malaria, tb. So a whole series of diseases. Let's talk about the spread of the virus right now. What are the most encouraging signs you're seeing right now and which hot spots give you the most concern? So, we track on a county-by-county as well as hot spot metro area and make sure we don't miss any rural areas so we were tracking four small outbreakin rural areas and the health commissioners and the local governments have handled those superbly and we're very confident that those were single outbreaks then we're tracking the large metro areas. You know, we look at daily case reporting but I think it's really important that we look at those not only as single days but combination of days and really look for trends and look at our testing data to see whether the number of test positives have started to decrease because we're doing a large amount of testing now so integrate all of that data. We are concerned about the metro area of Washington and Baltimore and we're concerned right now about the Philadelphia area. All of our previous areas seem to be steady at least and then certainly we're looking very carefully at California and Washington to really understand how they've been able as a community of Americans to milt gait so well. Given what we're learning about all that, is it realistic to think that the guidelines could be relaxed by may 1st or is it going to go on far longer than that? So we're doing a series of clear investigations of what happened in Washington and L.A. And what does that mea and how you keep the number of cases down. We're also looking very carefully at rolling out an hopefully having soon within the next 10 or 14 days an antibody test to tell how many Americans were asymptomatic and infected. This makes a big difference in understanding who can go back to work and how they can go back to work so all of those pieces need to come together over the next couple of weeks. Finally we all learned that your infant granddaughter was suffering from a high fever over the weekend, you weren't able to see her. How is she doing now. Thank you very much. Fortunately she got the rash of roseola yesterday which is very reassuring. When you make diagnosis from telemedicine and it's your own granddaughter you're nervous with the high fever associated with covid-19. I knew he hadn't been out of the house and that whole house was been quarantined but you worry terribly so thank you. Great relief. Dr. Birx, thanks for your time this morning. Thank you very much. So, robin, that is good news there and today we are going to be following up on that investigative report. It's simply stunning that medical intelligence had reports of Corona in China back in November yet nothing was done for weeks and weeks and weeks.
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