White House Medical Adviser Dr. Deborah Birx Warns of 'Very Different Spread' of COVID-19 in Fall

White House coronavirus response coordinator Dr. Deborah Birx warned about a "very different" spread of the coronavirus this fall during an event at the University of Connecticut in Hartford Thursday. The Northeast was once a hotbed for the coronavirus in the early days of the pandemic and is now seeing hospitalizations climb again. Birx said that some of the ways officials in the Northeast tackled the virus in April and May might not work this fall.

The Northeast states are seeing "troubling signs" that they could become hotpots again, Birx said during a press conference Thursday, reports ABC News. She said it was "still early" and officials "can continue in the Northeast to contain the virus." When the weather starts getting colder, the coronavirus could transmit quicker than before within families and groups in schools or workplaces, even where people are taking precautions, Birx explained. Officials learned this lesson during the summer in the South when people stayed indoors for air-conditioning.

"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 explained. She later shared a stark message for Connecticut residents. "The kind of spread that we’re seeing now is very different from the spread we experienced in March and April,” Birx explained. "What we did in the spring is not going to work in the fall."

On Friday, Birx traveled up to Cambridge, Massachusetts, where she met with Gov. Charlie Baker and a group of college presidents at MIT. She said the state and other Northeast states are seeing a "silent spread" of the virus, where more people catch it but are asymptomatic. Birx also believes Massachusetts does not need to shut down workplaces and businesses again. "And what we wanted to make clear is the actions this time have to happen at the personal level in our private homes rather than just the public spaces," Birx said Friday, reports WCVB. "Because the public spaces have become very safe."

Birx also warned it was important for Americans not to get lax with guidelines during the holiday season. "That’s what we saw happen in the south. People let down their guard when they were with friends and family," Birx said, notes WBZ. "They took off their masks. . . those becoming spreading events."