Birx visits MI, urges caution ahead of holiday weekend

LIVONIA, Mich. (WOOD) — A top federal advisor on the response to the coronavirus pandemic made a stop in Michigan on Wednesday as part of a national trip meeting with health officials.

Dr. Deborah Birx spoke with Gov. Gretchen Whitmer in Lansing before traveling to metro Detroit for a closed-door roundtable at a Livonia hospital. She spoke at a press briefing outside the building.

“We see a true decline in our case fatality rates, but that’s dependent on us finding people early and making sure that they can access care early, no matter what neighborhood or community,” Birx said.

The well-known White House coronavirus response coordinator thanked the people of Michigan and the state government for its efforts to fight the virus.

She is calling for everyone to be especially careful over the Labor Day weekend.

“It is really important because we are seeing that crowded neighborhood events, including backyard barbecues, are currently one of the primary spreaders of virus,” Birx said.

Birx says a national mask mandate, like the one Whitmer asked her to support, is not the most effective way to get compliance.

She says retail businesses and states have a greater ability to enforce mask regulations.

“Every place that has instituted a statewide mask mandate or a countywide mask mandate, we see the impact on the cases, so it is not theoretical — masks work,” Birx said.

With concerns mounting about cases connected to education, she is applauding schools and universities that are being transparent with case counts and that have a clear plan to handle positive cases.

“Every university across the United States that has students back, or brought students back and have went online, so that there’s students in off-campus housing, needs to have a testing strategy for their students and a care strategy for their students, so they can remain in their town and in their institution,” Birx said.