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The darkest days of the coronavirus pandemic are yet to come, top disease expert warns

Published Oct 20th, 2020 5:36PM EDT
Coronavirus Update USA
Image: vladimirhodac/Adobe

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  • Dr. Osterholm, a top infectious disease doctor, believes the next 2-3 months “are going to be the darkest of the entire pandemic.”
  • Osterholm anticipates new coronavirus cases will surge past 75,000 per day by November.
  • More than 10 states have recently seen coronavirus infections reach peak levels.

When the coronavirus pandemic first began sweeping across the country in March, many people assumed that life would return to normal after a few short months. Unfortunately, the U.S. hasn’t even come close to defeating the coronavirus over the past seven months. A look at the current coronavirus data is beyond sobering, to say the least.

Just this past weekend, more than 10 states reported a record-breaking number of coronavirus infections. Wisconsin, in particular, has been especially ravaged by the coronavirus in recent weeks. On Monday, the cheese state reported more than 7,500 new coronavirus cases, a figure that’s three times higher than the number of new cases the state reported just four weeks prior.

Across the entire country, coronavirus cases are up 29% over the last two weeks while coronavirus-related deaths have jumped by 36%. And looking ahead, the grim reality is that things are poised to get even worse over the next few weeks due to colder weather and the impending arrival of flu season.

Specifically, some health experts believe that the worst of the coronavirus pandemic is yet to come.

During an appearance on NBC’s Meet the Press this past weekend, Dr. Osterholm, who heads up the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota, said that the next 6 to 12 weeks “are going to be the darkest of the entire pandemic.”

Beyond that, Osterholm believes it’s only a matter of time before the daily number of new coronavirus cases exceeds 75,000 and starts setting new records.

“That number, we’re going to blow right through that,” Osterholm said. “And between now and the holidays, we will see numbers much, much larger than even the 67,000 to 75,000 cases.”

Meanwhile, some models designed to forecast coronavirus infections and deaths have indicated that the coronavirus death rate could increase by 78% by February.

The Hill reports:

A key model foresees approximately 171,000 more coronavirus related deaths by February 2021, a number that would represent a spike of 78 percent.

The model from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington School of Medicine suggests there will be roughly 389,087 deaths by Feb. 1.

If all Americans use face masks, the model’s best-case scenario projects 314,000 deaths by that date. The model, however, foresees more than 477,000 deaths if mask mandates are eased.

It’s worth noting that Osterholm’s assessment of the situation even takes into account the arrival of a vaccine. To this point, Osterholm acknowledged that “vaccines and therapeutics are coming down the pike” but qualified his statement by adding that availability to the public at large won’t happen until around June or July of 2021.

“Even then, half of the U.S. population, at this point, is skeptical of even taking the vaccine,” Osterholm added. “What we have right now is a major problem in messaging.”

To this point, a Pew Research Center study conducted last month revealed that 49% of Americans wouldn’t take a coronavirus vaccine due to concerns about potential side effects. What’s more, the percentage of Americans willing to take a coronavirus vaccine has been trending downward for months. Back in May, for example, 42% of respondents in a Pew Research Center survey indicated a willingness to take a coronavirus vaccine. That number dropped all the way down to 21% last month.

Osterholm’s appearance on Meet the Press can be viewed below at the 23 minute and 34-second mark:

Yoni Heisler Contributing Writer

Yoni Heisler has been writing about Apple and the tech industry at large with over 15 years of experience. A life long expert Mac user and Apple expert, his writing has appeared in Edible Apple, Network World, MacLife, Macworld UK, and TUAW.

When not analyzing the latest happenings with Apple, Yoni enjoys catching Improv shows in Chicago, playing soccer, and cultivating new TV show addictions.

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