The virus comes home

Coronavirus Daily

The virus comes home

The warning signs have been out there for a while. Almost everyone with infectious disease expertise was cautioning that with the onset of cool weather, the resumption of school and society's retreat indoors, the pandemic would gain renewed momentum.

But it may have begun even while the weather was warm. At a press conference in Cambridge, Massachusetts, on Friday, White House Coronavirus Task Force coordinator Deborah Birx traced recent increases in the U.S. and Europe to summer vacationers returning home. Many of them, she suggested, had become infected without realizing it, and brought it back home.

"Somehow when people went on vacation they really let their guard down," she told reporters, speaking outdoors with her mask in place. "We're asking now that you're back from vacation, put your guard back up, not only in the public places but in your private places including your home."

Infection rates are surging. France has reported about 340,000 new cases in the past month, close to half the its total since the outbreak began. The U.K. has seen a similar trend, and countries that had been less affected, such as the Czech Republic, are now hot spots. And in the U.S., the seven-day average of new cases climbed to 46,824 Thursday, the most since Aug. 19, according to the most recent Johns Hopkins University data.

Businesses and retailers are making their spaces safer, Birx said. It's at home where more vigilance is needed. People should stop assuming that their families and close friends are free of infection just because they appear healthy, she said.

"We take down our guard when we're with people we know, and we assume that if I know you, you couldn't have Covid," she said. "The message has to change that we're giving to the community, that community spread is now occurring in small gatherings day after day in households and families."

If the virus is allowed to gain momentum again, it will quickly translate into more hospital surges, and "a number of individuals who will succumb to this disease, which we do not want to happen."

Track the virus

Mapping the Outbreak Around the World


What you should read

Jakarta to Ease Social Curbs
Indonesia's capital will ease strict social-distancing curbs starting Monday.
Questions Remain About Home-Made Vaccine 
Scientist says human biology too "messy" to get a clear reading.
Covid Frontliners in Sweden Battle for Better Pay
Sweden is about to find out just how much of a game changer the coronavirus has been for its economy.
China Backs Indonesia to Become Vaccine Hub
Jakarta wants to become the region's center for vaccine production.
Chill Threatens Outdoor Dining and U.S. Recovery
Cool weather spells bad news for an already faltering economic recovery.

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