The coming weeks will be ‘darkest of the entire pandemic,’ infectious diseases expert says

The coming weeks will be ‘darkest of the entire pandemic,’ infectious diseases expert says

A top infectious diseases expert is warning that the next several weeks will be the “darkest of the entire pandemic” in the U.S. as cases continue to surge in many parts of the country while awaiting a vaccine. 

“We do have vaccines and therapeutics coming down the pike, but when you actually look at the time period for that, the next six to 12 weeks are going to be the darkest of the entire pandemic,” Michael Osterholm, director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota, said during an interview with Chuck Todd of NBC’s “Meet the Press” Sunday. 

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“Vaccines will not become available in any meaningful way until early to [the] third quarter of next year. And even then, half of the U.S. population at this point is skeptical even taking the vaccine,” he said. 

ICYMI: @chucktodd to @MtOsterholm: “You are always very clear and straightforward with our viewers.” #MTP

Chuck: “Which is why we find you to be as good of an expert these days, when the government refuses to provide scientists to the Sunday shows.” pic.twitter.com/4E8kaGjtYP

— Meet the Press (@MeetThePress) October 19, 2020Osterholm said the U.S. is suffering from a messaging problem due to the lack of a “lead” voice to guide Americans through the pandemic. He said leaders need to bring people together to understand why public health guidance such as wearing masks and social distancing are worth doing. 

Public health experts estimate a safe and effective vaccine will be found before the year is out, but widespread distribution isn’t likely until mid-2021. 

The U.S. reported more than 70,000 coronavirus cases on Friday, making it the highest single-day increase for the country since late July. Midwestern states and others across the country are experiencing a spike in cases, with Wyoming, Minnesota, Wisconsin, West Virginia, North Dakota, Indiana, New Mexico, Utah and Colorado all hitting records Friday for single-day increases of cases. The alarming increase underscores warnings from public health experts that the fall and winter months could see devastating outbreaks. 

“Friday, we had 70,000 cases, matching the largest number we had seen back during the really serious peak in July,” Osterholm said. “That number, we’re going to blow right through that. And between now and the holidays, we will see numbers much larger than even the 67,000 to 75,000 cases.” 

The renowned infectious diseases expert warned people against traveling for the holidays to avoid potentially infected members of their own family saying “if you really love the people that you have in your immediate family…do them the greatest gift of all, and that is distance yourself this year and don’t expose them.” 

There have been more than 8.1 million confirmed cases in the U.S. with more than 219,000 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University data. 

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