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Virus Expert Just Issued This "Deadly" Warning

Nearly 700 Americans are now dying each day from COVID.
FACT CHECKED BY Alek Korab

This fall could bring some dangerous developments in the COVID-19 pandemic, one expert warns. Michael Osterholm, an epidemiologist and director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota, analyzed the coronavirus's current trajectory and what it could have in store in the months ahead on the latest episode of his podcast. Read on to find out more—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You Have "Long" COVID and May Not Even Know It.

1

The Pandemic Won't End Until This Happens

Happy vaccinated woman gesturing thumbs up.
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After detailing the number of countries where the Delta variant is surging—including China, Australia, and the U.S.—Osterholm declared, "This virus is not anywhere close to being done with us."

"I know we're all growing very tired of it," he said. "But we're seeing country after country after country go through surges. Case numbers drop for a period of time, and then another surge. And I think that this is going to continue to be a pattern for some time, until we get the majority of not most of the world vaccinated."

2

Current Surge "Not a Surprise"

Doctor examining female patient in critical health conditions using a stethoscope in the intensive care unit of a modern hospital during covid-19 pandemic
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"It's not a surprise to me that the surge is here," said Osterholm. "We had more than enough human wood to burn for this coronavirus forest fire."

He added: "We still have at least 85 to 90 million people who could be vaccinated who are not. That is a lot of wood for this virus to burn."

3

More People Are Getting Vaccinated, But …

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"Even the uptick in vaccinations is going to have limited impact on the actual height and speed of the surge movement," said Osterholm. "Why? Because it takes four to six weeks to develop immunity even after the two vaccine series."

4

Hospitalization Rates Are Concerning

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"The number of current hospitalizations has increased by 64,200 over the past month," said Osterholm. "If the pace continues over the next month, we'll blow well past our peak high of 135,000 hospitalizations during the winter surge. The impact that these cases are having on the U.S. healthcare system, particularly in certain regions but even around the country, cannot be overstated."

5

Deaths Are Down

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"Nearly 700 Americans are now dying each day from COVID, up from 600 just last week," said Osterhom. "It's important to note, however, that the number of deaths is far below what we experienced during the peak in January, when we were at about 3,300 deaths a day. Like we're seeing in the UK, vaccines have clearly played a major role in reducing the number of deaths relative to the number of cases."

RELATED: I'm a Doctor and Here's How to Not Catch Delta

6

This Current Trend Is Dangerous

Medical staff work in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) for COVID-19 multiple patients inside a hospital.
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Osterholm questioned why several states were no longer reporting new COVID cases daily. "The reality is, this phase of COVID-19 is dangerous and could lead to deadly outcomes," said Osterholm. "I wish more attention was being paid to this. Why states are cutting back?" 

"They basically had broken down these systems that they had in place to collect cases during the height of the early surges of the pandemic and thinking that it was over with the summer. But we need this re-instituted as quickly as possible, in terms of what's happening in the U.S. right now in hotspots. According to The New York Times article from this past Tuesday, hospitals in the U.S. are starting to buckle."

RELATED: 6 COVID Mistakes That Could Cost You Your Life

7

Hospitals Are In Trouble

Covid-19 patient with oxygen mask in bed in hospital
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"One in five ICUs in the country are now at 95% capacity or greater," said Osterholm. "Seven states now have had hospitalizations surpassing levels recorded even during the prior winter or summer peaks. It's clear that patients are receiving less-than-optimal care."

RELATED: Dr. Fauci Just Shared 7 Key Points About Boosters

8

Back-To-School Could Be a Calamity

Teacher and children with face mask back at school after covid-19 quarantine and lockdown.
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"Unfortunately, the school environment right now is going to be a severe challenge. And in a sense, we have this experiment going on and our kids are the ones who are being experimented upon," said Osterholm. 

He said he wants his grandchildren to be in school for in-person learning, but noted that many schools have not changed their ventilation standards, effective masking is not being discussed enough, and many parents are unvaccinated. "So there are going to be sources of transmission to their kids or their kids back to them, either way. But then once it happens, it gets into the school. Once it's in the school, it's like lighting one match in a very, very small pile of wood that ultimately becomes the forest fire." So talk to your school about their precautions, and to get through this pandemic at your healthiest, don't miss these 35 Places You're Most Likely to Catch COVID.

Michael Martin
Michael Martin is a New York City-based writer and editor whose health and lifestyle content has also been published on Beachbody and Openfit. A contributing writer for Eat This, Not That!, he has also been published in New York, Architectural Digest, Interview, and many others. Read more about Michael