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KANSAS CITY, Kan. — The Kansas City metro stands at a crossroads of sorts. That’s the viewpoint of Dr. Deborah Birx, the Trump administration’s coronavirus response coordinator.

Dr. Birx visited the University of Kansas Medical Center on Saturday afternoon as part of a Midwestern tour to observe areas affected by large numbers of positive coronavirus tests. Dr. Birx met with public health leaders from the eastern side of Kansas to re-emphasize the need to administer and enforce guidelines as set by the Centers for Disease Control.

“This is not an issue that is partisan. This about what we need to do for each other to stop the spread of the virus,” Dr. Birx said.

Escalating numbers of COVID-19 cases near Kansas City, Kansas, Topeka, and Wichita, are concerning to Dr. Birx. She said her team noticed people in the Kansas City metro wearing masks in indoor settings, but lacked to wear them at outdoor venues and failed to follow social distancing measures.

“Kansas has rising test positivity and a high plateau of cases. This is the moment to get it under control,” Dr. Birx said.

Dr. Birx, who has been referred to by U.S. Vice-President Mike Pence as “his right arm” when it comes to knowledge of the pandemic, emphasized a priority for people in rural settings to abide by the same guidelines as followed by those living in urban settings.

The doctor points to rising numbers in positive cases in southern states with large rural populations, including Alabama, Louisiana, Arkansas and Oklahoma, where large spikes in positive cases have happened in recent months. Dr. Birx said the virus is also making its way north of those states.

“The virus is out there. It moves as people move. As long as you have people moving from other places in the United States, no matter where they’re going, they can be spreading the virus,” Dr. Birx said.

On the topic of opening schools for the fall semester, Dr. Birx said she feels school districts in rural communities with less cases should consider opening their classrooms to students as scheduled. In her opinion, those school systems could serve as models for other school districts to follow.

Regarding fall sports and high school athletic events, Birx believes it’s up to coaches and players to prove practices and competitions could be held without spreading the virus.

“We know we can stop the spread. It’s really going to rely on coaches and students committing to those activities,” Dr. Birx said.

In addition to existing guidelines, Dr. Birx also recommended two new directives:

  • Those who have successfully recovered from COVID-19 should donate plasma. Dr. Birx pointed out the antibodies the bloodstreams of donors could be beneficial to patients in their recoveries.
  • Seek out vaccine trials locally, and donate time toward those. Dr. Birx reminded reporters those studies are always seeking suitable volunteers.