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Virus Expert Warns These States Could Be Next COVID "Hotspots"

“It gets very sobering this week,” said Osterholm of the recent COVID deaths, piling onto the tally of Americans lost.
FACT CHECKED BY Emilia Paluszek

Despite there being a light at the end of the tunnel, the coronavirus pandemic is not over, warns epidemiologist Dr. Michael Osterholm, director of the University of Minnesota Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy, on his podcast today. In fact, trends seen in Michigan, and even as far away as India, where cases are raging, demonstrate we still have a lot to learn, and offer good reason to use caution out there. Read on for 5 key points about how you can stay away from COVID, and why you should stay concerned—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss this urgent news: Here's How You Can Catch COVID Even If You're Vaccinated.


Virus Expert Warns the COVID Deaths are "Very Sobering" and Still Continuing, So Be Careful

Infected patient in quarantine lying in bed in hospital, coronavirus concept.

"It gets very sobering this week," said Osterholm of the recent COVID deaths, piling onto the tally of Americans lost. "We're now at 564,292 recorded. If you were to say an individual's name respectfully every three seconds who's died of COVID, it would take 19.6 days nonstop to do that. Think about that. That is sobering. And non-English, global level, where we know there's been a major undercounting of cases is 3,025,835, which if you did the same thing, say respectfully, each one of these name, who they are personally, it would take 105 days to state everyone's name who's died of COVID 19 in the past year. And to give some sense of these numbers, just remind ourselves that it took nine months from the beginning of the pandemic to accumulate those first 1 million cases. It took four additional months to accumulate the next 1 million cases. And it only took three months for the third million. That should give one a sense also of what's happening globally today." Next, see where he thinks there might be outbreaks next.


These States Might Have COVID Outbreaks Like Michigan, He Warned

A Moon rising over Detroit, Michigan

Osterholm said "I don't know" when asked to predict the future—this virus is so unpredictable—but said there's "the potential for these other states—at least 12 to 15 states where things could take off and be as bad as Michigan." He mentioned "Mississippi, 29% have had at least one dose in that state, 30% in Alabama, 31% of Louisiana, 32% in Tennessee…. only 19% in Alabama"—"if we don't change the level of vaccination beyond where it's at right now in those states," it's anybody's guess, he said.


The Virus Expert Says Vaccine Hesitancy Must Be Overcome

African American man in antiviral mask gesturing thumb up during coronavirus vaccination, approving of covid-19 immunization

Reports say some people are hesitant to take the vaccine. "It's fair to say that the polls that have been taken to date to look at who will in fact get vaccinated, have shown that the share of adults who have either received one dose or want to get vaccinated as soon as they can actually has increased," said Osterholm. "So on March 21st, it was up so 61% from 55% the month before, but 61% means 39% of the population still is either not likely to get the vaccine without additional support in education or just out. They're not going to get it at this point. We don't really understand what it's going to take to get these additional people vaccinated. We're probably about 27 to 30 million adults away from being vaccinated before we hit up against what they call the enthusiasm limit. And that means that at that point, in 15 to 20 days, we may see the number of vaccinations dropped precipitously because we no longer can get people in. And I think this is going to be a real challenge. So this is going to be a big issue, vaccine hesitancy and what it means."


Globally, India is Struggling, and We Can Learn From Them

Gateway of India at morning, Mumbai, India.

"Unfortunately," said Osterholm, "global deaths are also on the rise with more than 83,000 reported just this past week. We know that deaths are under reported in many countries to begin with." Cases are out of control in India. "I've heard many times over and over again that if we just did it like India did it, they had somehow achieved this concept of herd immunity, based on the fact they were not seeing large outbreaks, they were not experiencing the need for these quote unquote lockdowns and that we just weren't doing it right.….Well, I think India right now is by far the best example" of why we need to be careful, he said.

RELATED: Most COVID Patients Did This Before Getting Sick


So Stay Safe Out There

Woman putting a second face mask.

Follow the public health fundamentals and help end this pandemic, no matter where you live—wear a face mask that fits snugly and is double layered, don't travel, social distance, avoid large crowds, don't go indoors with people you're not sheltering with (especially in bars), practice good hand hygiene, get vaccinated when it becomes available to you, and to protect your life and the lives of others, don't visit any of these 35 Places You're Most Likely to Catch COVID.

Alek Korab
Alek Korab is a Co-Founder and Managing Editor of the ETNT Health channel on Eat This, Not That! Read more about Alek