The White House coronavirus response coordinator says Missouri is one of the 20 states she’s visited in the past six weeks, to provide guidance on COVID-19.

Missouri Governor Mike Parson and White House coronavirus response coordinator Dr. Deborah Birx speak to Missouri’s Cabinet and community leaders about COVID-19 on August 18, 2020 in Jefferson City (photo courtesy of the governor’s Flickr page)

Dr. Deborah Birx participated in a roundtable discussion with Governor Mike Parson and Cabinet members in Jefferson City on Tuesday. They were joined by State Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS) officials and by community and school leaders.

Dr. Birx also held a press conference on Tuesday with reporters at the Missouri Capitol, after the roundtable.

“This box-in strategy that is being used here in Missouri I think really is an important example of how to really protect vulnerable individuals,” Dr. Birx says.

Governor Parson says Dr. Birx originally introduced the “box-in” testing strategy to Missouri officials, during a conference call. The “box-in” testing strategy involves testing, contact tracing, isolation and quarantine.

Missouri officials have used the strategy in long-term care facilities and other locations. State Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS) Director Dr. Randall Williams says 115,000 tests have been conducted in Missouri long-term care facilities, using the box-in strategy.

As of today, 468 long-term care facilities in Missouri have experienced at least one positive case of COVID-19, either among residents, staff or both.

DHSS says that since implementing box-in testing, Missouri has seen a significant decrease in its COVID-19 observed case fatality ratio. Governor Parson says that during April and May, more than seven percent of all observed cases each month in Missouri were fatal. In June, that number dropped to less than two percent. Parson says it’s now less than half a percent in August.

Dr. Birx says Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) staff are heading to Missouri, to help the Show-Me State in battling the COVID-19 pandemic. Missourinet asked Dr. Birx about the the CDC personnel, during the press conference.

“We have been sending out what we call these craft teams that work on COVID directly city by city. I believe they may be going to St. Louis, but I will look that up. Or Kansas City, to really go to cities before they get into serious situation,” says Dr. Birx.

DHSS says Missouri has now had 69,417 confirmed COVID cases, which is up from Monday’s number of 68,623. St. Louis has reported 181 COVID deaths, while St. Louis County has reported 705 deaths.

Kansas City has had 87 COVID deaths.

Dr. Birx emphasized several times the importance of wearing a mask and social distancing. She is also suggesting that Missouri follow Texas’ model, which requires masks in counties with more than 20 cases. Governor Parson says he will review the Texas model.

Dr. Birx is also encouraging you to participate in upcoming COVID-19 vaccine trials that will be conducted by researchers at Washington University’s School of Medicine and St. Louis University’s School of Medicine. She says it’s very important for people “from all different walks of life” to participate in those trials.

“Because when we complete those trials, we want to know that it’s going to work in a 70-year-old, we want to know it works in a farmer, we want to know it works in someone who lives in an inner city,” Dr. Birx says.

She says vaccine trial participants will be helping all of America. Researchers at the two universities expect to enroll about 3,000 participants in several vaccine trials. The two schools will participate in different trials.

Dr. Birx finished her press conference, by urging all Missourians to do their part in fighting the pandemic.

“It doesn’t matter if you are a Democrat or a Republican. You need to wear a mask and socially distance. You need to not have parties in your back yard and in your living room,” Dr. Birx says. “And we need to stop the spread of this virus because we can and we will together, while we work on developing a vaccine together.”

In addition to the Cabinet, numerous others participated in the roundtable discussion at the Governor’s Mansion. They included Jefferson City Mayor Carrie Tergin, Columbia Mayor Brian Treece, Jefferson City School Superintendent Larry Linthacum, Lincoln University President Jerald Woolfolk, Missouri School Board Association (MSBA) Executive Director Melissa Randol, Missouri Pork Association Executive Director Don Nikodim, and representatives from the Missouri Hospital Association and University Hospital in Columbia.

Click here to listen to the full 22-minute press conference from White House coronavirus response coordinator Dr. Deborah Birx, which took place at the Missouri Capitol in Jefferson City on August 18, 2020:

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