The director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Robert Redfield, warned on Tuesday that a second coronavirus wave expected over the winter could be worse than the current US outbreak.
“There's a possibility that the assault of the virus on our nation next winter will actually be even more difficult than the one we just went through,” Redfield told The Washington Post. “And when I've said this to others, they kind of put their head back, they don't understand what I mean”.
The top health expert cautioned that a winter return of the deadly coronavirus could coincide with peak flu season, and warned that federal and the state administrations use the coming months to prepare for a worst-case scenario.
Redfield said that a concurrent seasonal influenza and coronavirus outbreak - a vaccine for the latter almost certainly will not be available in time - could severely impact the US health care system, particularly in major hotspots like New York City.
The CDC director suggested that officials must emphasize the importance of social distancing, after the current pandemic ends and the lockdowns and restrictions are lifted.
“One of the critical things clearly has been the aggressive social distancing we've done,” Redfield said. “I think we're seeing the consequences of that when we see that our mortality rate is really a lot lower than what would have been predicted, and it really shows that mitigation works”.
Redfield expected the current outbreak to come to an end over the coming weeks.
“I think we're coming to the peak, as we sit here today, where we're able to see the other side of the curve, and we'll see this outbreak continue to decline over the weeks ahead,” he said.
As of Tuesday, the United States had registered 824,147 infection cases with the coronavirus disease, compared to 783,290 recorded roughly 24 hours earlier, marking an increase of almost 40,000, according to the most recent data from the Johns Hopkins University. The death toll stands at 45,297.