CAMDEN, New Jersey (WPVI) -- Dr. Deborah Birx from the White House Coronavirus Task Force made a stop at Cooper University Hospital in Camden, New Jersey on Friday, meeting with Governor Phil Murphy and other healthcare providers.
She says they are carefully watching the rate of hospitalizations and we could still see a greater surge from Thanksgiving. Dr. Birx also says she has an important message to help keep people safe and alive.
She urges everyone to continue taking precautions to prevent getting infected, but she also wants to make sure people know, especially if you are high risk. if you have symptoms, don't delay getting tested and don't delay seeking treatment.
"Because we know our therapeutics, our monoclonal antibodies, our antivirals called Remdesivir - they will work in the first 24 to 72 hours. They won't work a week in, so you really need to be diagnosed early. So we're asking people to get tested in our older group and vulnerable group," Dr. Birx said.
There are therapies for later stage infections, such as proning patients, which is turning them on their front to help the lungs get more oxygen, as well as steroids, but if healthcare workers can stop the progression of the virus early, there's a better chance for recovery.
As for current conditions, we're seeing more patients admitted into hospitals and Dr. Birx says the next several weeks are critical.
"We're worried and really want to get the message out to people to really hold on. We've got a vaccine that's probably going to start rolling out next week to your hospital personnel and your long term care facilities Let's just buckle down and protect one another," she said.
She urges everyone over the holidays to not gather indoors with people outside your household and continue to mask up and keep distance.
Plans are in place to distribute the first rounds of vaccine, but as more doses become available and more people vaccinated, we'll likely need more resources. Dr. Birx says would could see the National Guard utilized for later stages.
She says she has met with the COVID transition team to make sure the Biden administration is up to speed.
And what does she have to say about her future plans?
"My job right now is to work as hard as I can until January 20th and hand over as much information between now and then to the next team," she said.
Finally, she added that healthcare workers - who will get the vaccine first - will play a key role in helping others in the community feel more comfortable when it's their turn to get vaccinated.