• The latest coronavirus update health experts have shared is staggeringly ominous.
  • Some health experts, like former FDA chief Scott Gottlieb, think the US is in store for the worst days of the entire coronavirus pandemic — and maybe even as soon as next week.
  • This comes as the US has surpassed 8.3 million coronavirus cases since the pandemic began.

The CDC shared an ominous warning with reporters on Wednesday in a briefing that included a scary new coronavirus update.

According to Dr. Jay Butler, deputy director for infectious diseases at the CDC, the agency is, unfortunately, seeing a “distressing trend” in terms of the nation’s COVID-19 picture right now — cases are on the rise “in nearly 75% of the country.” In fact, Butler continued, “This past week, we’ve seen nearly 60,000 cases a day on average, as well as 700 deaths.” That’s an incredibly ominous trend, particularly given the fact that the US has seen more than 8.3 million coronavirus cases so far, per Johns Hopkins University, as well as more than 222,000 deaths. And things may get particularly bad as soon as next week.

Intriguingly, CDC director Dr. Robert Redfield said Wednesday that the agency is also looking at whether it might be practicable to shorten the recommended time period that people are supposed to quarantine themselves if they’ve been exposed to COVID-19. Fourteen days is the current guidance, but NBC News reports that Redfield says that might be shortened to 10 days or even as few as seven, based on “a growing body of data … being looked at, using testing during quarantine.”

“We don’t want to have people quarantined for 14 days unnecessarily,” Redfield said.

The bigger point, though, is that things are getting worse at arguably the worst possible time, when the weather is getting colder and people will be spending more time indoors. In a recent CNBC interview, former FDA chief Dr. Scott Gottlieb lamented that “I think we’re about two or three weeks behind Europe — so we’re about a week away from starting to enter a period where we’re going to see a rapid acceleration in cases.”

That comment follows a separate chat Gottlieb had with CNBC anchor Shepard Smith, in which Gottlieb added that: “It’s going to be a difficult fall and winter. We’re seeing hospitalizations go up in 42 states right now, cases are going up in 45 states, and there really is no backstop.”

For additional context around why experts like him think we might see the worst days of the coronavirus pandemic as soon as next week, consider the Brown School of Public Health’s COVID Risk Levels color-coded map. As of the time of this writing, 21 states are colored red — meaning, they’re at the tipping point where stay-at-home mandates are necessary again.

Andy is a reporter in Memphis who also contributes to outlets like Fast Company and The Guardian. When he’s not writing about technology, he can be found hunched protectively over his burgeoning collection of vinyl, as well as nursing his Whovianism and bingeing on a variety of TV shows you probably don’t like.