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Virus Expert Just Issued This Chilling Warning

We're only in the "first quarter" of this pandemic.
FACT CHECKED BY Emilia Paluszek

You think COVID is "over." Think again. Dr. Michael Osterholm, an epidemiologist and director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota, says we're only in the "first quarter" of the pandemic. Speaking on The Chad Hartman Show, he revealed five life-saving pieces of advice about the next surge, Long COVID and vaccines for kids. Read on—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had COVID.


Cases are Going Down—but Not Everywhere

doctor or healthcare worker in protective wear, medical mask and face shield making coronavirus test and taking sample from patient

The good news is, cases nationwide are going down. "In fact, 40 states are contributing to this case decrease over the past week," said Osterholm. "It's been remarkable, in many of the states, even in the Midwest, like Minnesota, Wisconsin, the Dakotas, are starting to see case numbers drop. We have eight states, however, where the number of cases are still double the national average. And if you take one—Alaska tops the list. If they were, in fact, a country they'd be in the top 10 countries in the world with the highest cadence rates. Other states include Montana, Idaho, Utah, Colorado are also seeing still substantial increases. So it's fading away that now, but there are still areas of the country that really adversely impacted. And we'll have to see what happens over the course of the next several weeks. But I would suspect that they too will start to see decreases in the near term."


The Next Surges May Happen Here

Female doctor or nurse trying to give shot or vaccine against virus to a scared patient.

"The positivity rates are related to how much virus is in the community and why this virus comes into the community," said Osterholm. "Now how big the surge gets is really to what we, as humans, do, particularly vaccination rates, the measures we take to limit transmission can surely bring that surge down. What we can say is we still have at least 70 million Americans who are still susceptible to this virus, who've not been vaccinated or who have waning immunity right now. And that's more than enough for this coronavirus forest fire to burn. We're gonna see more surges, particularly in some areas. L.A. in New York were completely spared in this most recent Delta surge. And we don't know why. They surely have pockets of highly unvaccinated people. So the next surges may include them." 

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You Have Got to Vaccinate Your Kids to Protect Them

Doctor vaccinating child at hospital.

"I don't think most people realize that just since we began the pandemic, but most notably in the last three months with this Delta surge, more than 1.8 million kids between the ages of five and 11 have been diagnosed with COVID. That's the age group we're talking about now for the vaccine. Kids in this age range basically right now includes 8,600 kids who have been hospitalized. One in three in the hospitalizations required intensive care, 143 of these kids have died. And during the time of this surge, this was the sixth leading cause of death in kids in the country. So, you want to get your kids vaccinated, trust me, you do. I'm a grandparent of five young beautiful kids who are in that age group now to be vaccinated. And I can't wait for them to get vaccinated. The parents are equally on board. So, yes, it is important and it, can not only save their life but the life of a family member or a friend because kids also transmit this virus to others. And now's the time to help stop that as a grandparent, knowing you want to be around your grandkids and now feeling much more protected." 

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Osterholm Warned of "Long COVID"

Woman being sick having flu sitting on bed alone at home, having high fever or temperature, touching forehead

Long COVID—in which patients get COVID, even a mild case, but suffer symptoms for months and years after—is still a mystery, said Osterholm. "We've looked at it relative to underlying health conditions. We looked at it by age, we've looked at it by how severely ill you were with COVID initially. And we just have a lot of more questions than we do answers. And so this is clearly an international priority in terms of better understanding of this. And then what can we do about it? Because Long COVID is a real health challenge, and there are millions of individuals out there who have Long COVID, who are begging for answers as to what can they do about it? What are the best treatments? What can they expect? Is this something that will go away over time? And so this is a huge issue. And one that we need to devote a lot more resources to, because it really is a very substantial cause of illness. And, and even to some disability in our communities." 

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How to Stay Safe Out There

Brunette woman wearing a KN95 FPP2 mask.

Osterholm says if this pandemic were a basketball game, "I'd say, we're just getting through the first quarter right now. And I tell anybody who is trying to run out the game clock before they get vaccinated: This virus will find you before the end of the game, please. We still have a large part of the world right now that is highly susceptible to this virus. And as long as that virus is circulating out there, any variant tomorrow could evolve. It could be much more transmissible or more importantly could become a virus that could evade the immune protection from our current vaccines or previous infection." So get vaccinated, 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