CDC head: Fall could be the 'worst' from a public health standpoint

CDC head: Fall could the 'worst' from a public health standpoint
Posted at 10:49 PM, Aug 13, 2020

CDC Director Robert Redfield suggested that the coronavirus pandemic could become even more dire in the fall, as the weather gets cold and people head indoors.

As part of an interview with WebMD on Wednesday, Redfield said it is imperative to do four things to slow the spread of the coronavirus: Hand washing, social distancing, wearing a mask and avoiding large gatherings.

“I’m not asking some of America to do it -- we all have to do it,” Redfield said.

And if Americans do not follow these suggestions?

"This could be the worst fall, from a public health perspective, we've ever had,” Redfield told WebMD.

Redfield’s dire outlook comes as the US continues to top 1,000 coronavirus-related deaths reported on average each day, according to Johns Hopkins University. While as of late Thursday, there have been over 167,000 coronavirus-related deaths in the US, a New York Times analysis of death records throughout the US during the pandemic suggests that the true number of coronavirus-related deaths could be higher.

While the seasonal flu is far less deadly than the coronavirus, Redfield hopes the pandemic will inspire more Americans to obtain a flu shot. Getting more Americans vaccinated could reduce the burden facing the health care system this fall.

“Please don’t leave this important accomplishment of American medicine on the shelf,” Redfield said. “This is a year that I’m asking people to really think deep down about getting the flu vaccine.”

Redfield hopes that the percentage of Americans who take a flu shot increases from 47% to 65% this fall.

As for the origins of the pandemic, Redfield said a lack of cooperation with China complicated the US response to the virus. Redfield said the US requested to work with Chinese officials as early as January 3.

“I think if we had been able to get in at that time, we probably would have learned quicker than we learned here,” Redfield said.