HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) — Top infectious disease specialist and White House task force member Dr. Deborah Birx returned to the Midstate on Thursday.
She was born and raise in the Midstate, spending time at Lampeter Strasburg and Carlisle High School.
She went from making the grade at the science fair to giving her home state a grade — and Pennsylvania appears to be one of her star students.
She said per capita, Pennsylvania is 45th in the country for the highest amount of COVID-19 cases, meaning only five states have a better handle on the outbreak.
“Pennsylvania has controlled their epidemic,” Birx said.
She’s still decided to skip the trip to her parent’s house in Mechanicsburg.
“I won’t see them though because I’ve been to a lot of bad areas,” Birx said.
Birx said Pennsylvania has thrived under pressure.
“Pennsylvanians have done a remarkable job, and together we need to get through Labor Day weekend really protecting another,” Birx said.
Nursing home cases were one of Pennsylvania’s and much of the Northeast’s biggest struggle. Dr. Birx said moving forward, these states have a much better handle on the issue.
“All of those states have taken a very aggressive approach since then to protect those individuals. I don’t think anyone understood how much asymptomatic spread there was in March,” Birx said.
One place where Pennsylvania lags behind other states is tests performed, but Birx said that struggle is actually a strength.
“A lot of the reason that testing has been even greater in many of the other states is because they’ve had a lot of people coming to the emergency rooms and hospitals that you haven’t had,” Birx said.
Birx also defended Gov. Wolf’s decision to reduce indoor restaurant capacity to 25 percent. She said they implemented similar strategies during the South’s summer outbreak.
“They did exactly that or some type of that and dramatically brought cases, so it’s no longer theoretic. It actually works,” Birx said.
What also works, according to Birx, is the classic three: social distancing, masks and hand-washing.
“We have to be like this until we get a vaccine, but we can do this,” Birx said.