Dr. Deborah Birx privately meets with university leaders about COVID-19

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Dr. Deborah Birx, the coronavirus response coordinator for the White House Coronavirus Task Force, visited the University of Mississippi on Saturday amid recent reports that Oxford is one of the top metropolitan areas with the greatest number of new cases per capita. 

She also said that the report from The New York Times could be misinterpreted, and that she didn’t want the report to change any threshold numbers because college towns tend to skew the rate. 

“1,000 cases in a university in a town of 16,000 looks very different than 1,000 cases in a town of 1.5 million,” Birx said. “The potential for spread is equal, but it looks much higher.”

Birx spoke to the media after a closed roundtable discussion with UM leadership, state and local officials, and healthcare professionals. 

Birx said that she is impressed with how the university is handling the coronavirus, especially with the addition of random asymptomatic testing, which began last week. 

“The university is finding cases,” Birx said. “We want to push them to find more asymptomatic spread, but they’re finding cases, they’re quarantining, they’re isolating, and most importantly, they’re caring for the students. They have nurse practitioners checking in with those students.”

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