Dr. Deborah Birx, the White House coronavirus task force coordinator, issued a statement addressing some of the doomsday scenarios regarding the potential COVID-19 infection rate promoted by the media.
Stop the spread
During Wednesday’s White House task force press briefing, Birx said “[T]hose projections … that implied that 60 percent or 50 percent of the population would get infected, I want to be very clear. The only way that happens is this virus remains continuously moving through populations in this cycle, and the fall cycle, and another cycle.”
“So, that’s the three cycles with nothing being done. … You can get to those numbers if you have zero controls and you do nothing. And we know that every American is doing something,” she explained.
“I think the [infection rate] numbers that have been put out there are actually very frightening to people.”
Additionally, Dr. Anthony Fauci said on Wednesday that it’s possible that the virus will undergo seasonal changes, pointing out that as the southern hemisphere enters winter, a marked uptick in coronavirus patients can be observed. This could be encouraging news because of the increasing body of evidence that the potency of the coronavirus could be severely impacted by rising temperatures.
“What we’re starting to see now… in southern Africa and in the southern hemisphere countries, is that we’re having cases that are appearing as they go into their winter season,” Fauci said.
He went on to emphasize that because there is likely a seasonal component, the northern hemisphere should continue to prepare for a second wave next winter.
Hitting the panic button
Birx’s announcement came on the same day as New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio sounded the alarm that up to half of the city’s population could be infected with the virus.
“It’s a fair bet to say that half of all New Yorkers and maybe more than half will end up contracting this disease,” de Blasio said during a City Hall press briefing.
Dr. Oxiris Barbot, the city’s health commissioner, had even worse news, saying that the situation is not likely to let up during the summer as many believe. “We think 50 percent by the end of this epidemic, this pandemic, so by the time September rolls around, likely 50 percent, but it could also be much higher,” she said.
New York City is the US’s coronavirus epicenter. As of Wednesday, the city reported close to 18,000 coronavirus patients and almost 200 deaths. The city has enacted some of the strictest lockdown orders in an attempt to lessen the burden on a hospital system that is reportedly nearing collapse.