UPDATED 9:55 AM PT — Sunday, May 24, 2020
According to coronavirus task force member Dr. Deborah Birx, the nation is trying to learn how to maintain openness and safety amid ongoing reopening efforts. During a recent interview, she stressed Americans must continue to follow social distancing guidelines and avoid gatherings of more than 10 people, even if they are outside.
She confirmed the government is preparing for a potential second wave of the virus in the fall, but also noted it is difficult to tell if the nation will have to close again.
The doctor also warned of asymptomatic carriers unknowingly spreading the virus.
“People are spreading the virus unknowingly. This is unusual in the case of respiratory diseases. In many cases, so you don’t know who’s infected. So, we really want to be clear, all the time, that social distancing is absolutely critical. If you can’t social distance and you’re outside, you must wear a mask. These are items that are really critical to protect individuals. We’ve learned a lot about this virus, but we now need to translate that learning into real, changed behavior.” – Dr. Deborah Birx, White House coronavirus task force coordinator
Dr. Birx has also said it’s “difficult to tell” if she sees the country closing again. This came after she was asked whether the country will remain open if there’s a second wave of COVID-19 infections, a stance President Trump has had firm opinions on.
The doctor went on to say being able to detect asymptomatic cases will be key to reopening safely.
“What I’m worried about is, what are we putting in place to find asymptomatic cases?” she asked. “This is why we’ve asked for proactive 100% testing of all residents and workers, then proactive ongoing testing of workers in nursing homes before nursing homes reopen, before any type of visitation.”
Dr. Birx added that proactive testing would extend to those living or working in large groups, which will indicate if the country is ready to reopen in the fall.