AUBURN, Ala. (WSFA) - White House Coronavirus Task Force coordinator Dr. Deborah Birx was in Alabama again on Thursday where she met with Gov. Kay Ivey and state health officials at the Capitol before traveling to Auburn University to speak.
In Auburn, Dr. Birx met with university leadership and took part in a roundtable with community and state health officials to discuss best practices and current guidelines about the pandemic.
She was greeted with a ‘War Eagle’ before speaking to a socially-distanced room of people for about 20 minutes Thursday afternoon.
Birx commended the state on it’s ability to control and mitigate the spread of COVID-19over the last few months and attributed a big part of that to the state’s mandatory mask mandate and social distancing.
“If you look at what happened within two weeks of the mask mandate, you can see the dramatic decline in cases here in Alabama,” Birx said. “We talked about the importance of keeping those mitigations strong through the fall to get through this fall together, to ensure that people are immunized for flu to really protect one another, keep the rates down, get the rates down even further. Alabama’s test positivity is really dropping, really improving, but we’ve got to do even more.”
She was last in the state in mid-July at the height of the state’s COVID-19 fight.
“What was almost uniformly across Alabama high test positivity, we now have all the counties down from 100 percent to around 20 percent in just the last eight weeks. That is the power of each other, when we work together hand-in-hand,” Birx said.
Thursday’s visit was part of Birx’s travels across the country to meet with health officials about ways of stemming the COVID-19 pandemic. Over the past three months she’s visited 28 states and nearly 20 universities. Auburn was among the last schools of the SEC for Birx to visit.
“As we have traveled across the south, it is great to see rival SEC universities coming together to help slow the spread of COVID-19,” said Birx. “While visiting Auburn, I was encouraged to see students and faculty members wearing masks and practicing social distancing. I encourage all Tigers to continue to follow the latest guidelines to keep each other safe and healthy.”
“I think what has come out of this is one SEC, not an SEC of constant competition, but an SEC that shared information across the schools over the summer, and what we’ve learned is the reason these schools has been able to convene and have students, and have students here on campus, and have in-person classes has been because they spent the summer planning as one.”
That planning has helped numbers in campus decline in Auburn over the last couple weeks. According to the university’s website for the week ending on Aug. 30 there were 570 students reporting new positive cases. The week ending in Sept. 20 saw just 53 new positive cases