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Virus Expert Warns These People Now "At Risk"

Dr. Michael Osterholm said there's still more human wood to burn.
FACT CHECKED BY Emilia Paluszek

With coronavirus cases going down, it's easy to become complacent. Don't. That's the big warning from Dr. Michael Osterholm, Director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota, who appeared on his podcast to say that the pandemic is far from over. And in fact, we could all be in danger of repeating past mistakes that may lead to another surge. Read on for 5 points of life-saving advice, including who is most at risk and where—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had COVID.


Virus Expert Said There's Still More "Human Wood" for the Virus to "Burn"

Patient refuses to take vaccination.

Cases are on their "way down," says Osterholm. "This is great news, but there are still 65 million Americans who today could be vaccinated by our current recommendations who are not. And while surely some of them have already been infected and likely have some protective immunity, we still have more than enough human wood for this coronavirus forest fire to burn….So while this surge may drop and continue to drop, hopefully coming back to the baseline that it was in June, or it may be like the UK, and we'll see increased number of cases. I think with our limited testing, that probably won't happen. Even if it does occur, really, we won't pick it up, but what will happen over the days ahead is certainly that those 65 million people will continue to be at risk as well."


Virus Expert Said These States are Currently in Trouble

An ambulance on an emergency call driving through the town center of Fairhope

Osterholm said cases are up in "Montana, Idaho, Wyoming, and North Dakota, clearly really challenged right now in those states, but collectively they only make up 1.2% of the U.S. population. That's 4,029,000 people important people. We love you in those states. We love your states, but just take a look at two other areas. L.A. County in New York City— L.A. county has roughly 10 million people. New York City has 8,340,000 people. So basically 18 million people compared to the 4 million in those states I just mentioned. L.A. county has actually seen the number of cases drop 18%. In the last 14 days, they are at 10 per a hundred thousand cases per day….Only 61% of the residents in LA county are fully vaccinated for those 12 and older, only 71% are fully vaccinated. They've got a lot of people there that are susceptible to this virus. Let's take a look at New York City—there they're reporting about 15 cases per a hundred thousand. Again, much lower than the states have been most impacted. They have had a 15% decrease in case numbers over the last 14 days, only 65% of their population is fully vaccinated. And for those 12 and older, only 76% are fully vaccinated. Again, the same situation as L.A. They never got hit by the surge and they surely have a large number of people who are susceptible to this virus. They will be part of future surgeries. You know, we don't have to wait for this to happen, to understand why it's still so important and,  only growing more important to get these people vaccinated. And what I worry about is that we will hit another quote, unquote, June period, where people see case numbers dropping, dropping, we're done with the pandemic. We don't want to hear about it. And as such we won't get people vaccinated. …The case numbers could increase also substantially there."

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Virus Expert Said These Kids are in Danger

Little girl is sick using oxygen mask on her face laying in bed at hospital.

"Younger kids who yet are not able to be vaccinated 28 million kids between the ages of five and 11 are not yet able to be vaccinated. Hopefully that will change very quickly, but they too will add to that potential pool of future cases." Dr. Anthony Fauci said yesterday on ABC's This Week: "If all goes well, and we get the regulatory approval and the recommendation from the CDC, it's entirely possible if not very likely that vaccines will be available for children from 5 to 11 within the first week or two of November."

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Virus Expert Thinks Eventually, We Will All Need Boosters

Hand of doctor holding syringe and vaccine

Does Osterholm think we will all need boosters eventually? "I do. And quite honestly, this recommendation now of anyone 65 years of age and older, those 18 to 64 at high risk of severe COVID, or with high exposure to the coronavirus for their jobs or living situations, you can almost drive the semis through that recommendation. And so I think that many people will interpret themselves to be at some increased risk, but officially, will it be expanded? Ultimately, I think it will. I think you're going to see as we collect more data, that'll just be, this is a three dose vaccine. Whenever you start that vaccine series, or this is a two dose vaccine, whenever you start that vaccine series. So I think that that's what will happen."

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How to Stay Safe Out There


Follow the public health fundamentals and help end this pandemic, no matter where you live—get vaccinated ASAP; if you live in an area with low vaccination rates, wear an N95 face mask, 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, 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