THURSDAY, Dec. 3, 2020 (HealthDay News) — The head of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warned Wednesday that the coming winter months might be the darkest period yet in the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I actually believe they’re going to be the most difficult time in the public health history of this nation,” CDC Director Robert Redfield, M.D., told the Chamber of Commerce Foundation on Wednesday morning, adding that perhaps 450,000 Americans might be dead from COVID-19 by February. Right now, that number is about 273,000, The New York Times reported.
Another record-breaking day of COVID-19 hospitalizations and deaths underscored Redfield’s grim warning. The number of people hospitalized for COVID-19 on Wednesday passed 100,000, nearly double the highest point seen last spring. The daily death toll hit 2,760, surpassing the previous record set in April, The Times reported. With hospitals filling up in multiple states, the days ahead do appear bleak.
Still, Redfield offered some hope. Americans, he said, could cut their losses with simple measures like wearing a mask. “It’s not a fait accompli,” he said. “We’re not defenseless. The truth is that mitigation works. But it’s not going to work if half of us do what we need to do. Probably not even if three-quarters do.”
One positive? Though COVID-19 cases have exploded recently, with new infections topping 1 million a week, a far smaller proportion of people who get the virus now are dying from it. CDC data show that the share of cases resulting in death dropped from 6.7 percent in April to 1.9 percent in September, The Times reported.