The White House Is Warning That COVID Is "Very Different" Now
"What we did in the spring is not going to work," White House Task Force lead Deborah Birx, MD, says.
The coronavirus has been violently spreading across the United States for almost eight months now—and over the course of the pandemic, a lot has changed. Outbreaks have moved from one area to another, the virus itself has mutated, and our understanding of how the virus spreads has also evolved. But now, we're about to see another turn in our long-standing battle with the coronavirus. "The kind of spread that we're seeing now is very different from the spread we experienced in March and April," Deborah Birx, MD, head of the White House Coronavirus Task Force, said at an Oct. 8 press conference in Hartford, Connecticut. "What we did in the spring is not going to work in the fall." Read on to learn more about what's new with the spread of COVID, and for more on what's going on with the virus itself, check out why Dr. Fauci Says the Latest COVID Mutation Worries Him.
The virus is spreading in new settings.
"The spread of the virus now is not occurring so much in the workplace as people have taken precautions," Birx explained. "It's happening in homes and social occasions." And for more on where the virus is headed, check out Here's How Fast COVID Is Spreading in Your State.
And even cautious people are getting too lax.
Birx said there are increased incidences of "people gathering and taking their mask off and letting down their guard and not physically distancing." She added that some people feel comfortable taking off their masks or breaking social distancing guidelines when they're in the presence of people they know and when everyone appears healthy.
But time and time again, we've seen that even those who aren't showing symptoms can infect others. This has become especially apparent in recent weeks, as seemingly healthy individuals caused a superspreader event at the White House, infecting more than 30 people so far, including President Donald Trump. And for more on his status, check out This Is How Likely It Is That Trump Will Get Worse, Doctors Warn.
The virus is coming back to places it's hit before.
Birx's visit to Connecticut comes as case numbers have started to rise again in the Northeast. According to The New York Times' data, Connecticut has seen an average of 287 cases per day this past week, which is an increase of 85 percent from the average just two weeks earlier.
"In certain regions of the country, like the Midwest the Northwest, and even now we're starting to see a little difficulty in the Northeast, in New York. Then you get concerned," Anthony Fauci, MD, said during an interview with MSNBC's Andrea Mitchell this week. "And if you start seeing upticks, the way we're seeing it, and you have a baseline that's 40,000 and stuck at 40,000, that's not the optimal position to be in as you enter into the fall and winter." And for more on what Fauci is worried about, check out Dr. Fauci Just Said This Is a "Bad Sign" for COVID.
And that's a concern as people move indoors for the winter.
Birx urged Connecticut residents to stay firm in their coronavirus safety practices, especially as the weather cools. After all, she says indoor activities with the heat on are "particularly conducive to spreading events without your mask." She recommended residents improve the ventilation in their homes with outside air by keeping fans on and cracking windows whenever possible.
"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. "Physically distancing and masks work, even indoors." And for more up-to-the-minute guidance on COVID, sign up for our daily newsletter.