A top CDC official has warned that the US must brace for the “worst fall” ever in the history of public health disasters if Americans don’t follow coronavirus guidelines.
“For your country right now and for the war that we’re in against COVID, I’m asking you to do four simple things: wear a mask, social distance, wash your hands and be smart about crowds,” Dr. Robert Redfield, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, told WebMD.
“I’m not asking some of America to do it. We all gotta do it.”
If people fail to follow those tips, next season could be “the worst fall, from a public health perspective, we’ve ever had,” he said.
Redfield’s powerful plea came as COVID-19 fatality numbers soared to more than 166,000 nationwide, with 1,499 deaths reported on Wednesday alone — the most in a single day since May, according to Johns Hopkins University data.
Along with masking up and social distancing, folks can also fight the pandemic by getting a flu vaccine, he said.
“By getting vaccinated, you can protect your children,” he said. “When we look at the mortality that we see with flu, one thing is for certain — the kids that get vaccinated, they basically get protected against death.”
The CDC has bought 10 million doses of the flu vaccine for uninsured adults this year, compared to 500,000 doses in past years, and more will likely be ready by the winter of 2021, Redfield said. There are also a total of 270 active trials for COVID-19 treatments.
Speaking about online efforts by anti-vaxxers to discredit vaccines — along with a recent poll showing one-third of Americans would refuse to get the shot if it were available — other experts acknowledged a strong public education campaign is needed.
“We are behind here,” said Dr. Francis Collins, director of the National Institutes of Health, according to CNN. “We haven’t done a good job of getting [coronavirus vaccine] information out there.”
“Speaking for myself, I think I underestimated the level of public resistance … I didn’t expect it to be that widespread,” he said.
As of Thursday, more than 5.2 million people in the US had been infected with the coronavirus, according to Johns Hopkins University data.