White House coronavirus response task force coordinator Dr. Deborah Birx is warning that the Northeast is experiencing ‘troubling signs’ of a ‘very different’ style of coronavirus spread as temperatures drop in the region.
Birx said Thursday that fall’s cooler weather in the region has led to coronavirus spreading faster within small gatherings of families and social groups, than in schools and workplaces where people are following precautions.
‘What we’re seeing in the community is much more spread occurring in households and in social occasions, small gatherings where people have come inside, taken off their mask to eat or drink or socialize with one another,’ Birx said Thursday at a roundtable discussion at the University of Connecticut in Hartford, Connecticut.
White House coronavirus response task force coordinator Dr. Deborah Birx is warning the Northeast is experiencing ‘troubling signs’ of a ‘very different’ style of coronavirus spread
It’s a similar type of spread pattern that was seen in Southern states over the summer, when people flocked to air-conditioned, indoor areas to escape heat and humidity, she said, according to ABC News.
She added that she has seen people rationalizing that it’s okay to remove their face masks or not follow social distancing rules because the people they’re with appear healthy – but pointed out that people can be infected and asymptomatic.
Birx noted that the new increase in coronavirus cases in Connecticut ‘is really a message’ to the state that ‘the kind of spread that we’re seeing now is very different from the spread we experienced in March and April.’
She added that ‘What we did in the spring is not going to work in the fall.’
Beginning in March, many northeastern states were quick to order residents to shelter at home and shut down non-essential businesses, as a way of trying to curb the spread of coronavirus when death tolls and infection rates were skyrocketing.
It wasn’t until May that many of the same states began slowly reopening in stages, while also mandating the wearing of face masks, social distancing and other precautionary measures meant to help prevent the virus’ spread.
Birx said that as cooler weather comes, coronavirus is spreading faster within families and social groups, as they remove masks while eating and drinking with each other indoors (file)
Rising cases of new coronavirus cases have led local and state officials to tighten coronavirus precautions. A student learns their NYC school has been temporarily closed October 8 (shown)
After a summer where it seemed that the northeastern states had managed to control their rates of new infections, numbers are now on the rise again, bringing fears of a second wave.
Some of the blame for the increase in new coronavirus cases can be attributed to the return of college students to campuses, as well as colder air driving people indoors after months of hanging out in parks and other outdoors locations with friends.
University of Minnesota infectious-diseases expert Dr. Michael Osterholm told the New York Times that following social distancing and masking precautions had been a major factor in depressing the spread of coronavirus within the northeastern states during the spring.
But, ‘the point is, once you let up on the brake, then eventually, slowly, it comes back,’ Osterholm said of COVID-19.
Connecticut is now among several northeastern states – including Rhode Island, Maryland and Pennsylvania – where new coronavirus clusters are emerging.
For the first time since June, New York City is reporting more than 500 new coronavirus cases per day, while Boston has had to shut down in-person schooling for kids due to a steep rise in cases.
New Jersey, meanwhile, has seen its rate of infection nearly doubling – to nearly eight cases per 100,000 people – and also reported an increase in hospitalizations.
To avoid a repeat of their disastrous springs, state and local officials around the northeast have begun tighten restrictions on business and schools, as well as the use of outdoor spaces.
Despite the new upticks in coronavirus cases, Dr. Birx said Thursday that ‘It’s early here’ and that ‘We can continue in the Northeast to contain the virus.’
‘This is the moment to really increase asymptomatic testing, increase outreach to the communities, making sure that every community member knows that if they’re with individuals outside of their household, it could be a COVID-spreading event,’ Birx said Thursday, according to the Hartford Courant.
She also encouraged ‘Physically distancing and masks work, even indoors.’
Birx has been a long-time advocate of wearing face masks, social distancing and washing hands.
Over the summer, she began encouraging people living in multi-generational households – where there may be people with pre-existing conditions that would make them more vulnerable to catching coronavirus – to wear face masks at home if there is an outbreak in their communities.