Dr. Deborah Birx takes part in discussion at URI with state and university leaders

The goal is to see what's happening on the ground in different communities around the country.

KINGSTON, R.I. (WLNE) – Dr. Deborah Birx, who is at the head of the White House coronavirus task force, is visiting here in New England as part of a tour she’s doing of several states and universities. Thursday she met with officials at URI.

The goal is to see what’s happening on the ground in different communities around the country.

Birx described how they see the virus is spreading in the northeast at this point in the pandemic, saying that it is mostly in small groups where people are familiar with one another.

“We talked about the critical need both in the state and at the university to expand surveillance testing,” said Birx.

This is something URI is doing right now: testing all of its population to find asymptomatic cases.

They reported 30 positive cases Thursday. They believe it’s happening within small groups of students.

“Someone goes to one house, and then another, and takes a ride with friends, and then comes back to their residence on campus, and then all of the sudden, we have an entire group of students who need to be traced or placed in isolation or quarantine,” said URI President Dr. David Dooley.

Dr. Birx described this scenario as an example of what’s happening as a larger trend in the country right now as cases are seeing a slight uptick in the northeast.

She emphasized the importance of staying vigilant as winter approaches.

“Where we’re seeing the spread occur now, is in private spaces, where we feel comfortable where we take off our mask, and we invite in our neighbors and friends,” said Birx.

The doctor added that Rhode island has been doing well throughout the pandemic and is heading in the right direction.

“You’ve all been on the right track throughout the spring and summer,” she said. “We just wanted to alert across the northeast the changing of the viral dynamics.”

URI President Dooley also said they’ve had discussions about imposing a curfew to limit the spread of the virus among students, but are waiting to see the results of their widespread testing.

Categories: Coronavirus, News, Regional News, Rhode Island, Your Health