Waco area remains a COVID-19 hot zone, Trump adviser says

Published: Sep. 21, 2020 at 6:51 PM CDT
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WACO, Texas (KWTX) – Metro Waco, which includes all of McLennan County, remains a COVID-19 hot zone, White House Coronavirus Response Coordinator Dr. Deborah Birx said during a roundtable discussion Monday at Baylor.

“The county and the city are what we describe as a COVID red zone,” she said.

“There is clearly community spread in this area,” Birx said.

The county’s seven-day positivity rate was just less than 10% Monday.

The Waco-McLennan County Health District reported 51 additional cases of the virus Monday for a total of 7,571, of which 457 were active Monday.

The virus has claimed 98 lives in the county and 52 patients were hospitalized Monday, 13 of them on ventilators.

The White House Coronavirus Task Force has the ability to surge federal testing to a specific area, which Birks said she wants to do in Waco.

During the roundtable discussion Monday, Birx said she’s impressed with how the school has brought and kept students on campus.

“I think the university has really put together a plan that brings testing and care for the students together to really meet the needs of the students and the community,” she said.

She attributed the university’s success to planning that started in the spring as well as collaboration with local officials.

She’s visiting universities to learn more about the tactics each school is using to form a plan to put out for all institutions in the spring.

Students who met with Birx Monday morning told her they were concerned about being isolated or quarantined for 14 days.

“We heard a lot of concerns from the students about the impact of isolation quarantine online classes,"she said.

Birx said the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is working with schools in the Southeastern Conference to study the 14-day quarantine period in college students, in hopes of shortening the period for those younger than 30.

“We have the capacity now to really study it closely and figure out precisely what that number is,” Birx said.

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