CDC director says we could have ‘worst fall’ in US public health history

Reporter: Morgan Rynor Writer: Jack Lowenstein
Published: Updated:
CDC director Dr. Robert Redfield. Credit: CNN

CDC director Dr. Robert Redfield says the United States is at risk of experiencing the worst fall in its public health history due to the coronavirus pandemic.

We looked at what the future could hold Thursday if guidelines are not followed by every American.

“This could be the worst fall from a public health perspective we’ve ever had,” Redfield said during an interview with Web MD.

It’s not because the flu season is about to merge with COVID-19 alone. Redfield says Americans are not doing enough to protect themselves and one another. The CDC director also told WebMD the agency’s efforts to understand the virus were hindered by lack of cooperation from officials in China.

MORE: WebMD – Redfield: This Fall Could Be ‘Worst’ We’ve Seen

We asked Harvard epidemiologist Marc Lipsitch Thursday what we can do right now to avoid future consequences.

“That’s the many billion-dollar question,” Lipsitch said. “I think the answer is for what’s left of the summer, any place that is sort of in the orange, yellow and red zone … needs to intensify its control measures.”

That means social distancing, wearing masks and rapid testing.

Still, around the country, there’s a huge delay in testing, which means that people don’t know that they’re infected until long after they’re probably contagious.

Redfield said, at this point, 95% to 99% of people in the U.S. need to join forces for the country to handle both the pandemic and the flu season. He urges all Americans to get a flu shot this season.

Lipsitch told us rapid testing could help schools reopen safely. Already, schools that are open across the country are putting teachers and students into quarantine. That’s a legacy of not having priorities straight a few months ago.

Lipstich agreed with the American Academy of Pediatrics when it said it’s not fair to say the coronavirus is completely benign in children. Lipsitch said it’s time to put science over personal choice.

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