WH Coronavirus Coordinator Missed Briefing Because She Had a Low Grade Fever

By Melanie Arter | March 23, 2020 | 9:49pm EDT
(Photo by BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP via Getty Images)
(Photo by BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP via Getty Images)

(CNSNews.com) - Dr. Deborah Birx, response coordinator for the White House Coronavirus Task Force, revealed on Monday that she had a low-grade fever over the weekend and skipped out on the White House briefing out of an abundance of caution.

ABC White House Correspondent Jonathan Karl asked Birx about Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), who revealed he had tested positive for the coronavirus but was asymptomatic.

“I want to talk about these guidelines on testing. Obviously, Senator Rand Paul tested positive for coronavirus, but he was not in contact with anybody who was a known positive, and he didn't have any major symptoms. Under your guidelines, under the guidelines that have been outlined here, he would not have gotten a test. He got one anyway. So what do you say to him?” Karl asked.

“He’s pointed out that had he not gone in defiance of these guidelines and got tested, he might still be showing up to the Senate right now infecting the whole U.S. Senate,” Karl added.

Birx said Paul wouldn’t have passed the coronavirus onto anyone else by following the task force guidelines of social distance and washing his hands.

“So that’s why this was important,” she said, pointing to the recommendations. “That’s why this recommendation to the American people is important, because we have been saying there is a level of asymptomatic or mild spread, and that’s why each person has to be responsible. Each person has to be responsible in the way that they decrease their interaction with others to six feet. 

“You are all very socially distanced, so thank you, but also assuming that everyone that you’re interacting with could be positive, and that gets into the hand washing piece and that gets into the other piece that we talked about is surfaces,” Birx said. 

“I think until we really figure out the respiratory transmission versus the surface transmission and this hard surface transmission, not fabric, will be really critical, because that is the way the virus could spread on subways or Metros where people would be holding on to things that other people had recently held onto. So that is the real question,” she added. 

Karl pointed out that if Paul had not gotten the COVID-19 test, he would still be showing up to the Senate everyday.

“If he had been following these guidelines, he would not be infecting others because of the social distancing, washing your hands and doing everything we talk about. So we talk about how people make choices because of their jobs that they have to come in,” Birx said.

“You’ll notice I was not here over the weekend. I think this is the part that we really need to take responsibility for. Saturday, I had a little grade low-grade fever. So, actually, probably a GI thing, but I'm meticulous. I'm a physician. I looked it up. I ended up piggy banking from Walter Reed. That’s how we protect one another,” she said.

“So you know, unless everybody is taking their temperature every day, we can't say that he had no symptoms. These are the kinds of things that we have to do for one another. This is the personal responsibility that I'm talking about that we all have to practice,” Birx added.


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