CONCORD, N.H. (AP) — As she makes the rounds at universities, Dr. Deborah Birx of the White House coronavirus task force said Monday that weekly or regular testing has proven critical in keeping the number of cases low.
Birx was speaking at Plymouth State University, which conducts weekly testing and only has one active case among its 3,500 students. But when told by a Plymouth State student about gatherings of more than 100 in basements, she said the university would need to be on guard as weather begins to turn cold.
“As people move indoors, this is a real wakeup call for the university because you may start seeing additional positive tests,” she told a crowd of 75 gathered in the 600-seat auditorium. Everyone wore masks. Birx spoke at the University of Vermont over the weekend.
“We’re very concerned about what's happening in the communities. We believe, both at the University of Vermont and this university, COVID could come from the community, in from the outside and into your student body," she continued. "Making students aware of that is really going to be critical.”
She also encouraged students at the university where her brother, Donald Birx, is president, to report larger gatherings anonymously so the staff can address them. Along with weekly testing, the school requires face coverings and social distancing.
“I can tell you the first time it happens, you will have significant spread,” she said. “It won't be one or two. It will be 25 or 50. That has consequences for the entire university."
A person who tested positive for COVID-19 may have exposed patrons seated at the bar at a restaurant in Portsmouth, the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services said.
Anyone who visited the Jumpin' Jay's Fish Cafe and sat at the bar between Sept. 30 and Oct. 4 may have been exposed, the department said in a news release Sunday.
The department said it conducted a contact investigation and notified known close contacts. It decided to notify the public, saying there may be additional people who were exposed.
The restaurant had announced Oct. 7 that it was voluntarily closing temporarily as a precaution.
“Please know that we have met or exceeded state and CDC guidelines in our quick and independent decision to close, test and quarantine as the safety of our staff and guests is our top priority," the restaurant said in a statement. “Our facility has been professionally cleaned and we will not reopen until it is safe and prudent to do so."
This story has been corrected to show that the visitor notification began Sept. 30, not Sept. 3.