Dr. Birx talks Thanksgiving precautions, says threat to seniors 70 and up is enormous

We've been checking in with Dr. Deborah Birks, with the White House Coronavirus Task Force. 

She's talking exclusively to FOX 2 and answering questions about the holidays and precautions we can all take.

FOX 2: "There has been a lot of finger-pointing with blame toward everyone from the president to governors. How much is personal responsibility?"

Birx: I think there are two pieces of it. One, we have to be crystal clear about what the risk is. I want to be crystal clear, the risk to people over 70 is enormous. It's enormous. I know that if you thought your exposure to a grandparent or a parent over 70 could result in one and 10 of them not being there next year ... we have to take that part very seriously and so our messaging needs to be very consistent. 

"Also what I've learned while being on the road, meeting with mayors, I met with the mayor of Detroit, I met with the governor of Michigan, it's really understanding the population and understanding how to get messaging. What we have learned from universities is how to proactively test. And testing as part of a public health intervention is where we find those asymptomatic cases. Because if you're only doing asymptomatic testing, you're missing half of the cases and you're still continuing to spread the virus. 

"People who are symptomatic will isolate and stay in their beds and won't infect others, so they only spread for two or three days, Asymptomatic people are out and about their entire time. So they can spread for 8 to 10 days and that's why would really say wear a mask, it protects you and protects others because you don't know if you're infected or not."

FOX 2: "Is there something Michigan-specific you want people here in Metro Detroit to try to keep in mind?"

"I know when it gets cold people put on layers. And depending on how cold it is and I can get very cold, you put on more layers. What we're asking people to do is to put on all of their layers of protection right now. To do those things that they know ourselves and do not do those things they know where unsafe so that we all get to the spring together including our individuals with comorbidities and those over 70. We can do that together and I think together, the mayors, governors, and the federal government want to be part of that solution to make sure that we all make it to 2021."

 FOX 2: "Many in Michigan are planning open gatherings in the garage. What do you think of that?"

"Just make sure that the households are still pretty physically distant. And follow the CDC guidelines that talks about serving utensils and making sure you're not exchanging and then having one person clean everything up. And then make sure they are really careful with hygiene and handwashing as they both collect and put stuff into the dishwasher. It can be done following the CDC guidelines so if you're and a tent outside but if you're using space heaters, make sure you're using them safely because many of them have to be vented we don't want any space heater issues too."