Dr. Birx meets with UConn leaders, health officials on COVID-19 outbreak, containment efforts


HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH) — It wasn’t until the COVID-19 pandemic that Dr. Deborah Birx became a household name as the coordinator of the White House Coronavirus Task Force.

Dr. Birx was at the University of Connecticut (UConn) issuing a warning Thursday morning about what needs to happen to prevent another outbreak.

UConn was not her first stop on her college tour but she was on a roundtable there with students, faculty, and Governor Ned Lamont. Then she took some questions, but even at a distance, Birx was unable to dodge questions about how President Donald Trump’s controversial handling of coronavirus and his own diagnosis, which might undermine the message she’s pushing about masks and social distancing.

Brix said, “The kind of spread we’re seeing now is very different from the spread we experienced in March or April…The advice to the American people is the same advice to the president and the vice president. We have a way to control this virus and we know what it is physical distance, wearing a mask, personal hygiene”

Dr. Birx also said she was impressed with UConn’s wastewater surveillance program to detect COVID outbreaks among dormitories and gave a warning on the uptick in cases in the Northeast.

She really pushed wearing masks while indoors and about concerns over small gatherings as we enter the holiday and colder weather season.

UConn student Ashaki Reid was the only undergraduate in the room.

“That was really exciting to get that direct insight,” said Reid, who is an aspiring healthcare professional.

She says she learned much at the roundtable.

“I am going to make sure I tell my family and friends to wear their masks even when they’re talking to someone that they view has been cautious themselves,” Reid said.

Dr. Birx added – referring to the recent uptick in COVID cases – it is smaller indoor gatherings that pose the greatest risk to a new resurgence of the virus: “Small gatherings where people have come inside to eat or drink or socialize with one another.”

She did not take questions on the timing of her comments, her visit Thursday aligning with the state’s phase 3 reopening that increases indoor capacity for restaurants, salons, and event venues.

Dr. Birx continues her college tour – for which she has been traveling since June. She’ll next head to Rhode Island.

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