“This is the biggest public health crisis in a century,” Centers for Disease Control Robert Rofield said on Sunday.
In fact, Redfield sees the upcoming flu season in Dickens’ terms.
“It simply came to our notice then. This is really the worst or best time, depending on the American audience, “he said, paraphrasing the opening of Charles Dickens’ classics. A tale about two cities,,
The current pandemic, combined with the oncoming flu season, could create “the worst public health downturn we’ve ever had,” the CDC director said in an interview with WebMD.
Which side of the rock will the United States fall on? Redfield said it depended on how consistently Americans wore face masks, stood 6 feet apart, washed their hands and avoided crowded gatherings.
Joe Biden and Kamala Harris call for masked mandates nationwide to prevent coronavirus
“I don’t want some Americans to do it – we all have to do it,” Redfield said. Somewhere between 95 and 99 percent of Americans will have to follow U.S. disaster avoidance guidelines, he said.
The scenario that health experts warn of is the flu season, which is accumulating on the already widespread and active pandemic, prevailing hospitals and leading to many more deaths because people have failed to recover.
One person who does not hope for the country’s ability to escape a catastrophic fall is the country’s leading infectious disease expert, Dr. Anthony Foci.
“When you look at other parts of the country,” said Foci of regions that have not yet had big jumps, “that’s embarrassing to me: We’re starting to see the tingling of the edges in the percentage of tests that are positive.”
This, as the country reported 1,500 deaths from COVID in one day, for the first time since May.
“We know from a sad past experience that this is a predictor that you will have more jumps,” Foci said during a panel discussion by National Geographic.
“The bottom line,” he said, “is I’m not happy with the way things are going.”
So how many Americans wear masks? Do we have somewhere near 90 percent compliance?
A Gallup poll published exactly one month ago found that 44 percent of adults in the United States say they “always” wear a mask when they are away from home, and 28 percent say they do so “very often.” At the same time, three out of 10 report doing so less frequently, including 11 percent “sometimes”, 4 percent “rarely” and 14 percent “never”.
According to John Hopkins, the United States on Thursday saw 55,910 new cases and 1,499 new deaths from the virus. Given the lack of testing and contact tracking, these figures are probably in short supply.
A recent analysis of the New York Times, which looked at deaths above the national average, found very clear spikes in additional deaths following the spread of the virus. According to the Times, at least 200,000 more people than usual have died in the country since March. That’s with a lot of Americans who are locked inside, not working and just traveling for groceries.
So what does “the worst public health decline we’ve ever had” look like?
The 1918 Spanish flu pandemic was the deadliest pandemic in history. One third of the world’s population is infected. The virus has killed approximately 50 million people worldwide, including 675,000 in the United States. This was at a time when the population of the United States (in 1917, before the epidemic) was 103 million.
The population of the country in 2019 is over 3 times more than 328 million. The current epidemic has already claimed 165,000 American lives.
Lead author of a new study published Thursday in the medical journal JAMA Network Open, Dr. Jeremy Faust, says COVID-19 “has 1918 potential.” Faust is a doctor at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and an instructor at Harvard Medical School.
“If left untreated, SARS-CoV-2 [the virus that causes COVID-19] the infection may have a comparable or higher mortality than the 1918 influenza H1N1 virus infection, the study said.
During the Spanish flu pandemic, the biggest loss of life occurred in just six weeks between mid-November and late December. One-third of virus deaths in America occurred during this period.
It is very possible that the worst times are yet to come.