Adm. Brett Giroir, assistant secretary of health who leads the government’s COVID testing efforts, sounded the alarm on Wednesday that the country is in an “absolutely dangerous situation” as COVID-19 cases continue surging ahead of the holiday season.
During an interview on MSNBC on Wednesday, Giroir said that both COVID-19 hospitalizations and fatalities being up by 25% week over week means that the country is “not going in the right direction.”
Giroir stressed that the country is at an “absolutely critical, dangerous point” as he urged the public to wear a mask to reduce the spread of COVID-19 because it’s “the only way we get out of this” until there’s a vaccine for the pandemic that has killed more than 249,000 Americans thus far.
“Right now, we are in an absolutely dangerous situation that we have to take with the utmost seriousness,” Giroir said. “This is not crying wolf. This is the worst rate of rise in cases that we’ve seen in the pandemic in the United States and right now there’s no sign of flattening.”Giroir reiterated that the public needs to be “incredibly concerned.”
Dr. Henry Walke, CDC’s Covid-19 incident manager, said there is “no more important time than now for each and every American to redouble our efforts to watch our distance, wash our hands and, most importantly, wear a mask.”
“CDC is recommending against travel during the Thanksgiving period,” he said. “For Americans who decide to travel, CDC recommends doing so as safely as possible by following the same recommendations for everyday living.”
Walke added that the CDC is concerned “about the transportation hubs.” He said he’s worried people won’t be able to maintain social distancing while waiting in line, for example, to board buses and planes.
Fauci said that a recent University of Washington model projection that estimated the country could see another 200,000 deaths by March 1st might be accurate if Americans don’t change their behavior between now and then.
“The models, as I have said so often, are as good as the assumptions you put into the model. And we have got to change those assumptions,” Fauci said. “We have got to say, we are going to turn it around very, very vigorously adhering to the public-health measures. And we don’t need to get to that number.”
The country reported more than 153,400 new cases on Thursday, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. That’s the third-straight record one-day spike in cases in the U.S and has pushed the seven-day average of new cases over 131,400, up more than 32% compared with a week ago, according to a CNBC analysis of Hopkins data.
It’s not just cases. There are currently more than 67,000 people hospitalized with Covid-19 across the country, more than at any other point during the pandemic, according to data from the COVID Tracking Project, which is run by journalists at The Atlantic. The number of people dying every day from the disease is ticking upward as well.