Dr. Deborah Birx, the White House COVID response coordinator under former President Donald Trump, said Wednesday on Newsmax that if there was one thing she wishes had been done in the early days of the pandemic, that would have been to "ensure the United States was prepared for pandemics."
"We weren't diagnosing flu, and even today, you see that the CDC is posting [about] influenza-like illness and COVID-like illness," Birx said on Newsmax's "Wake Up America." "That's ridiculous. That's like saying cancer-like illness. We have the tests. We need to bring infectious diseases and viral diseases into the 21st century."
The doctor said such tests are vital so that parents will know if their children are ill with RSV (respiratory syncytial virus) or the flu, or whether grandparents or parents know if they have COVID or another respiratory disease, as treatments are different for each disease.
"We're not giving people the tools that they need to successfully live with these viruses," said Birx.
Meanwhile, mixed messages are coming from the government, and "that's why we need to talk common sense to the American people," said Birx.
"If you have children in your household, you know that if they're under one, they're at high risk for RSV," said Birx. "If your child gets sick, demand that they get tested for flu, COVID, and RSV, and the same thing if you're pregnant, because of the risk of flu."
The right treatment is to get the proper test, whether or not a person is vaccinated, she added.
"We should have right now home tests for RSV, COVID, and flu so people can make decisions," said Birx. "We have more people in the hospital over 70 than we did at this time last year from COVID. We're just not utilizing the tools we have."
Meanwhile, President Joe Biden has had COVID, despite having all vaccinations, as has Rochelle Walinsky, the head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, but they have had access to testing and Paxlovid, with which "we can keep our parents and grandparents out of the hospital," she said.
"I think what the current administration doesn't understand is there are a lot of Americans in rural America that don't have access to primary care," said Birx. "Their community hospitals have closed. We need to have them have the same tools whether you live in New York City, [or] if you live in northern Alabama or Mississippi or Oklahoma, and that's not happening today."
Americans in rural areas have been at higher risk for fatalities with all diseases for more than a decade and a half, "and their mortality has not improved, whereas urban has, and I think we knew this before COVID," she added.
"I'm hoping that Congress in January will take on this disparity and healthcare access between rural and urban America," she said.
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