The White House coronavirus task force and Centers for Disease Control (CDC) said separately on Wednesday that the next few months will be a critical time for the coronavirus outbreak and that hospitals could be overwhelmed if people don’t take precautions and protect themselves from becoming infected and spreading the virus to others.
“We are in a very dangerous place due to the current, extremely high COVID baseline and limited hospital capacity; a further post-Thanksgiving surge will compromise COVID patient care, as well as medical care overall,” the White House task force said in a report sent to states, The Hill reported.
The task force advised all people over 65 or who have co-morbidities for the disease to avoid indoor spaces where people are unmasked and to have their groceries and medications delivered to them.
People under 40 who gathered with others outside their household for Thanksgiving were advised to “assume” that they are infected and avoid those at high risk.
200,000 more deaths possible this winter
CDC Director Robert Redfield said that there could be another 200,000 deaths from the coronavirus by March and noted that 90% of hospitals are now in the red zone and that more than 90,000 people are hospitalized with the virus.
“I actually believe they’re going to be the most difficult time in the public health history of this nation,” Redfield said of the months between now and March.
A record 2,600 more deaths were reported from the virus on Tuesday, but this number could have been inflated by lower reporting over the Thanksgiving weekend. But Redfield said that the death toll could be lowered by mitigation efforts like wearing masks and avoiding close, prolonged contact with others.
“The truth is, mitigation works. The challenge with this virus is, it’s not going to work if half of us do what we need to do. It’s not even going to work, probably if three quarters of us do what we need to do. This virus really is going to require all of us to really be vigilant,” Redfield said.
Redfield referenced a study done in Kansas on masks that showed reduced transmission among those who wore masks and a 100% increase when people did not wear them, but other studies have shown less hopeful results.
Individual state responses led to inconsistent messaging, Redfield said.
Inconsistent messaging is better than tyrrany
President Donald Trump has resisted a national response, however, because of constitutional concerns and differing levels of transmission in different areas.
At some point, we need to prioritize freedom over “safe” controls if we want to have any freedoms left when this virus is finally under control.