“We’re going to have the flu epidemic and the coronavirus epidemic at the same time”
— CDC director Robert Redfield
Winter is coming.
As a number of states rush forward to reopen their economies, Director Robert Redfield of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Tuesday a likely second wave of the novel coronavirus will be far more dire, because if it hits in the winter as predicted, it will coincide with onset of flu season.
“There’s a possibility that the assault of the virus on our nation next winter will actually be even more difficult than the one we just went through,” CDC Director Robert Redfield told the Washington Post today. “And when I’ve said this to others, they kind of put their head back, they don’t understand what I mean.”
“We’re going to have the flu epidemic and the coronavirus epidemic at the same time,” he warned.
Having two simultaneous respiratory outbreaks would put unimaginable strain on the health-care system, he said. The first wave of covid-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, has already killed more than 42,000 people across the country. It has overwhelmed hospitals and revealed gaping shortages in test kits, ventilators and protective equipment for health-care workers.
In a wide-ranging interview, Redfield said federal and state officials need to use the coming months to prepare for what lies ahead. As stay-at-home orders are lifted, officials need to stress the continued importance of social distancing, he said. They also need to massively scale up their ability to identify the infected through testing and find everyone they interact with through contact tracing. Doing so prevents new cases from becoming larger outbreaks.
Asked about the appropriateness of protests against stay-at-home orders and calls on states to be “liberated” from restrictions, Redfield said: “It’s not helpful.”
[Lena H. Sun, April 21, 2020 ]