COVID "Will Be Worse" in August and September, Says Former CDC Director

"The next one to two months will be worse, unfortunately," says Tom Frieden, MD.

Many people were holding out hope that the coronavirus would ease up over the summer, but that's far from what's happening in many states across the country. Experts predicted that the summer would not bring much relief, but few could have imagined the intense toll the virus would take on the U.S. in June and July. Unfortunately, according to Tom Frieden, MD, the former director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), this is not the worst of it. In fact, we should be bracing ourselves for what coronavirus will bring in August and September. "This is before young adults spread to lots of older and vulnerable people," Frieden says. "The next one to two months will be worse, unfortunately."

In a July 14 LinkedIn post, Frieden says there are a variety of aspects contributing to his assumption that the U.S.'s coronavirus situation will worsen. For example, while COVID-19 related deaths are currently below the epidemic threshold, Frieden predicts this won't last long, noting that overall deaths are on the rise in the U.S.

According to Reuters, there were 5,015 deaths in the U.S. over the week ending in July 12, which represents a 46 percent rise in coronavirus deaths from the week prior.

Woman wearing a mask outside

Frieden says that "only the Northeast is at all reassuring," but this is offset by the rising number of cases and deaths in the southern, southwestern, and West Coast states. Similarly, in a new COVID-19 study by PolicyLab at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, researchers analyzed data on coronavirus cases in 519 counties, representing 71 percent of the U.S. population. Based on their data, they predict that over the next month, cases will surge in Nevada, California, Missouri, Georgia, and South Carolina, but that numbers will remain down in New England.

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Ultimately, Frieden concludes, "the situation will get worse before it gets better."

Robert Redfield, MD, the current director of the CDC, issued a similar warning earlier this week. During a video chat with the Journal of the American Medical Association 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." That's because of "the co-occurrence of COVID and influenza," he explained, which will put a strain on the U.S. healthcare system.

To avoid that, Frieden emphasizes the importance of closing bars and restaurants, limiting gatherings to just a few people, and boxing in the virus "through strategic testing, effective isolation, rapid contact tracing, and supportive quarantine." To learn more about where COVID is spiking, check out The 10 Newest Coronavirus Hotspots You Need to Know About.

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