White House Coronavirus Task Force Coordinator Dr. Deborah Birx was in Maine on Tuesday meeting with the governor as well as leaders, faculty and students of the Maine Community College System.
During a press conference at Southern Maine Community College in South Portland, Birx said community colleges could be an important early warning system against the asymptomatic, silent spread of COVID-19.
“Not because we believe they have done anything to expose themselves uniquely to the virus, but because community college students are, as they described, of the community. And they’re often working in the community, they’re studying in the community and they’re often in group housing or in their homes,” she said.
Birx stressed the importance of proactive testing to get ahead of the pandemic, which she says is taking place at many college and universities in the Northeast.
“It’s always been difficult to understand that you could have an infection, not have symptoms and be infectious to others,” she said. “We’ve worked with the states in the Northeast to really ensure that they have those indicators.”
Birx also warned against complacency among those in the upper Northeast where coronavirus levels are low and where COVID-19 prevention fatigue might set in.