Top coronavirus (COVID-19) doctor: Don’t wait for vaccine to start fighting virus

Dr. Deborah Birx says Americans need to buckle down against COVID-19 before winter

White House official offers advice on staying safe during pandemic

One of the nation’s top coronavirus (COVID-19) doctors is urging Americans not to wait on a vaccine to start fighting the spread of the virus.

Dr. Deborah Birx said the knowledge we’ve gained about COVID-19 over the last six months has convinced her that it can be controlled with preventative measures, but everyone has to work together.

Don’t wait for the vaccine to do the right thing,” Birx said. “Do the right thing today, because if we do the right thing today, we go into the fall with much fewer cases.”

Birx urged Americans to buckle down and reduce the spread of COVID-19 before cold weather drives people indoors and the risk of transmission rises.

“Right now, we gain freedom through wearing our mask and socially distancing,” Birx said. “With a vaccine, it’s a very different potential interaction for all of us, and so yes, I’m hopeful for a vaccine, but I’m also very convinced right now that we can stop community spread by wearing masks, socially distancing and avoiding crowds.”

Birx cautioned that the virus is also spreading at family gatherings and smaller private events when people don’t wear masks or keep their distance.

“Not only is the virus real -- the consequences of the virus are real,” Birx said. “The hospitalizations that we still have every week are real. The number of Americans that we have lost to this virus is real. But what is also real is we have a way to prevent its spread, and I think this really needs to be a balanced message of, ’We have power against the virus.’ But it requires all of us to exert our power together.”

Birx said she’s hopeful Americans will choose to get vaccinated once data becomes available to show that a vaccine is safe and effective. Until then, she asks everyone to stay vigilant.

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You can watch Kimberly Gill weekdays anchoring Local 4 News at 5 p.m., 6 p.m. and 11 p.m. and streaming live at 10 p.m. on Local 4+. She's an award-winning journalist who finally called Detroit home in 2014. Kim has won Regional Emmy Awards, and was part of the team that won the National Edward R. Murrow Award for Best Newscast in 2022.

Derick is the Lead Digital Editor for ClickOnDetroit and has been with Local 4 News since April 2013. Derick specializes in breaking news, crime and local sports.