The CDC Director Just Said the Words No American Wants to Hear Right Now
Dr. Robert Redfield issued this dire warning about what lies in the coming months ahead with coronavirus.
It's no secret that the current coronavirus situation in the U.S. is not looking good. The country just saw an increase in deaths due to COVID nationwide for the first time since April and the outbreak is spiking in nearly 40 of the country's 50 states. But unfortunately, things could be getting much worse, according to Robert Redfield, MD, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). During a live-streamed chat with the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) on July 14, he said: "I do think the fall and the winter of 2020 and 2021 are going to be probably one of the most difficult times that we experience in American public health."
Redfield explained that he is worried about the coming fall and winter seasons due to "the co-occurrence of COVID and influenza," that will likely return with cold weather and more people sharing indoor space.
Flu season starts in October, and takes a toll on the U.S. health care system every year. The CDC estimates that, over the last decade, the U.S. has seen around 475,000 hospitalizations and 36,500 deaths due to the flu annually. However, if hospital beds are still being filled up by COVID-19 patients come flu season, Redfield worries that hospitals will not be able to help both influenza patients and coronavirus patients seeking medical care. As a result, the death counts due to both conditions would likely climb.
This is hardly the first time Redfield has expressed that concern. "If there is COVID-19 and flu activity at the same time, this could place a tremendous burden on the health care system related to bed occupancy, laboratory testing needs, personal protective equipment and health care worker safety," Redfield wrote in his testimony for the House Energy and Commerce Committee hearing on June 23.
On its website, the CDC says that "getting a flu vaccine will be more important than ever" this year, as it is possible to have the flu and COVID-19 simultaneously.
On July 14 while talking to JAMA, Redfield also implored more people to get the flu vaccine so that medical and public health care professionals can "try to minimize the impact of influenza, because those two respiratory pathogens hitting us at the same time do have the potential to stress our health system."
"Keeping the health care system from being overstressed is going to really be important," Redfield noted, adding that "the degree that we are able to do that will define how well we get through the fall and winter." And for more on the coronavirus, check out 7 Things the CDC Says You Need to Have to Avoid Coronavirus.