White House medical expert Dr. Deborah Birx praises Virginia Tech for testing, research

‘I’m really proud of what they’ve done here’

BLACKSBURG, Va. – White House Coronavirus Response Coordinator, Dr. Deborah Birx, met with Virginia Tech leaders, faculty and students on Wednesday to learn more about the university’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I’m really proud of what they’ve done here," said Dr. Birx.

Birx has visited 12 other colleges across the midwest and south, including the University of Kentucky and the University of Tennessee.

She said the ones that have fared well came up with a detailed COVID-19 response plan that allows them to adapt based on the data.

“Institutions of higher education, we’re always learning as they’re implementing,” said Birx. "And I think that’s what we’ve seen in these successful schools.”

Birx said Virginia Tech is leading the charge when it comes to COVID-19 testing and research.

Tech is testing wastewater samples to detect the virus sooner, even in asymptomatic individuals. The university is also researching how far airborne droplets spread while people wear masks.

Freshmen Nicholas Kartamyshev and Raegan Guzik said what Virginia Tech is doing is working.

“Tech has been a lot safer in my opinion of how they’ve been handling it. Some colleges seem to just step back and hope the students take care of most of it,” said Kartamyshev.

Guzik would like a little more clarification about the cases on campus.

“I wish that, you know, there was more of a larger update every single day and I wish we were a little more aware of how many active cases are on campus," said Guzik.

Birx said the innovative work at Virginia Tech is something the country could learn from.

“There’s really a whole set of knowledge where we have gaps that I think this institution can uniquely answer for us," said Birx.

Birx said she plans to visit other college campuses in the south and eventually create a ‘playbook’ of what seems to be effective at universities, which she can share with state governors and university or college presidents across the country.

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