Experts Sound Dire COVID Warning for Winter
There should be cause for excitement—coronavirus infections are slowing to their lowest levels in months, despite outbreaks in some states, and a vaccine is on the horizon. However, virus experts are worried we'll see more infections in the next few months, as fall and winter takes its toll. Read on, and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had Coronavirus.
"We're Heading Into a More Difficult Season"
"We're heading into a more difficult season," Dr. Scott Gottlieb, the former US Food and Drug Administration commissioner said on CBS' Face the Nation. "We're heading into the fall and the winter, when we would expect a respiratory pathogen like a coronavirus to start spreading more aggressively than it would in the summertime."
A forecast from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington predicted 410,000 deaths by January. "They predicted by January because that's taking into factor that as we get into the winter, the fall and the winter, there's going to be a lot more indoor activity as opposed to outdoor activity," Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation's foremost infectious disease expert, said this week. "And if you combine in directivity with the lack of uniform utilization of masks, then you could start really getting into trouble. That's the reason why we say right now, outdoor is always better than indoor, but when you get into the cold of the late fall in the early winter, sometimes it's impossible to do activities outdoors. And if you're going to do it indoors, particularly if there's crowds, you really need to wear a mask….In this case that we are talking about 410,000 deaths, which I, I so surely hope we don't even approach that….Of course it's possible."
"That's a Lot of Infection"
Gottlieb looked at the numbers and didn't like what he saw.
"Looking at Memorial Day, we had about 40,000 people hospitalized," he said. "We were diagnosing about 21,000 new cases a day and had about 1,100 deaths. Now, notwithstanding the fact that we've made really significant gains in reducing in-hospital mortality and reducing length of stay in the hospitals for patients who are hospitalized for COVID right now, as of yesterday, we had about 35,000 people hospitalized. We're diagnosing about 40,000 infections a day. And on a seven-day moving average, we have about 850 tragic deaths a day. So that's a lot of infection to be taking into a season when we know a respiratory pathogen is going to want to spread more aggressively."
He added that people are anxious to get the economy going again, an observation proven true in a new survey. "New data from the NBC|SurveyMonkey Weekly Tracking Poll show signs that coronavirus fatigue is setting in for the nation," reports NBC News. "American adults still view the pandemic as predominantly a health crisis, and the majority are worried that businesses are opening too soon. But there's been an increase since July in the share of Americans who see the pandemic as primarily an economic crisis and in the share who worry that businesses are taking too long to reopen."
Said Gottlieb: "The other backdrop here is that people are exhausted. People have been social distancing and wearing masks and staying home for a long period of time right now. Small businesses are hurting. So I think that people's willingness to comply with the simple things that we know can reduce spread is going to start to fray as we head into the fall in the winter. And that's another challenge, trying to keep up our vigilance at a time when we know that this can spread more aggressively."
As for yourself: Stay strong this fall and winter. Wear a face mask, social distance, only run essential errands, was your hands frequently, and to get through this pandemic at your healthiest, don't miss these 35 Places You're Most Likely to Catch COVID.
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