Trump virus adviser says parties fueling spread

FILE - Deborah Birx, coronavirus response coordinator for the White House Coronavirus Task Force, speaks after a White House Coronavirus Task Force briefing. (Photo by Joshua Roberts/Getty Images)

President Donald Trump’s top coronavirus adviser says families and friends holding parties is helping fuel the virus’ spread, issuing the warning as some colleges are dealing with outbreaks tied to parties.

Dr. Deborah Birx, coordinator of the White House coronavirus task force, urged people to wear masks and socially distance after visiting with Gov. Asa Hutchinson and state health officials, pointing to the gatherings as a particular concern.

“We’re finding that the majority of community spread right now is happening from parties, either indoors or outdoors, where people are with their families or friends and believe there’s no one there ... (who) has COVID,” Birx told reporters outside the Arkansas Governor’s Mansion. “And yet there is someone there that has the virus and they don’t know they have the virus because a significant number are asymptomatic.”

A chasm has grown between President Donald Trump and his team of public health experts as the coronavirus pandemic has spread to all reaches of the country, with escalating deaths and little sense of endgame.

The result has been a daily delivery of a mixed message to the public at a moment when coherence is most needed. Trump says the virus is "under control,” but Dr. Deborah Birx, the White House coronavirus task force coordinator, warned this week that it has become “extraordinarily widespread.” Trump dismissed her comment as “pathetic.”