The newest appointed Directer of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Rochelle Walensky, has a bleak message for Americans this week about the coming days of the pandemic.
In an interview with with CBS News’s Face the Nation on Sunday, Jan. 17, Walensky said: “By the middle of February, we expect half a million deaths in this country. That doesn’t speak to the tens of thousands of people who are living with a yet uncharacterized syndrome after they’ve recovered. And we still yet haven’t seen the ramifications of what happened from the holiday travel, from holiday gathering, in terms of high rates of hospitalizations and the deaths thereafter. I think we still have some dark weeks ahead.”
In the last 10 months, COVID-19 has claimed nearly 400,000 American lives. But Walensky predicts another 100,000 Americans will die in the next month alone.
Walensky noted that the U.S. is seeing “nearly 4,000 deaths a day,” as cases surge in more than 30 states. In California, hospitals are being forced to turn away COVID patients who present a lesser chance of survival.
Scott Gottlieb, MD, the former commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), also appeared on Face the Nation on Jan. 17. He explained, “We’re seeing a near-term peak in terms of the number of new daily cases. Now, unfortunately, deaths and hospitalizations will continue to grow over the next two or three weeks because they’re a lagging indicator. But we’ll see continued declines probably for about four weeks, maybe five weeks until this new variant starts to take over.”
The new variant strains cause an even greater concern because with each mutation of any virus, comes further unrest about things like increased transmissibility, increased morbidity and mortality, and potential changes in treatments or vaccines.
“So far, the one from the U.K. looks like it is more transmissible. We don’t have any more information about whether it evades our vaccines,” Walensky said. “We have indication that it likely does not. But what increased transmissibility means is there are more cases and therefore more deaths.”
Although hope is on the horizon, this thing will continue to get worse before it gets better.