Dr. Deborah Birx

Dr. Deborah Birx

LEXINGTON, Ky. (WDRB) -- Dr. Deborah Birx, a key member of the White House Coronavirus Task Force, applauded Kentucky and its leadership Monday for the work being done to combat the COVID-19 pandemic.

Birx met with University of Kentucky leadership, along with local and state health officials at UK. Among the many things discussed was the proper planning that was done early this summer to get students back on college campuses. Birx commended UK for its work and success in doing just that and added that the transmission is not commonly coming from classroom settings.

"I'm going to be very frank," Birx said. "I think the majority of infections that you're seeing on college campuses are not happening on campus in the classroom. We've now seen throughout the summer that these infections are brought into institutions due to what happens off campus in communities."

Birx is traveling to dozens of states and universities to examine each of their plans to bring students back to campus. She said the White House Coronavirus Task Force aims to find what's working for institutions to help guide future recommendations.

"I've really been impressed at the ability of Kentuckians to really follow these protocols, because in the end, our defense against this virus is strictly our behaviors," Birx said.

Birx also touched on where the country stands in its search for a COVID-19 vaccine. She said six companies are making progress through trials now, and all six could ultimately deliver a vaccine at some point.

This weekend, Pfizer said its vaccine could be distributed to Americans by the end of the year.

"We're hoping that all of those vaccines end up both efficacious and safe, but we'll have six in development simultaneously and six in manufacturing simultaneously," Birx said.

When Birx was asked about President Donald Trump downplaying COVID-19 in its early stages, she said while she can't speak for the president, her message about its severity hasn't changed.

"The president is the president of the United States, and it's his job and determination of how he speaks to the American people," she said. "I know we have been consistent with our message to the vice president and president on the specifics of this virus and the spread of this virus."

Copyright 2020 WDRB Media. All Rights Reserved.