With American COVID-19 deaths now averaging 2,000 daily, and the hardship showing no signs of stopping (Mississippi, fpr example, has the second most deaths per capita in the world!), it can start to feel like this pandemic will never end. The truth is, it's good to be careful, because it is a danger, says Dr. Michael Osterholm, an epidemiologist and director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota. He sounded a warning on the latest episode of his podcast. Read on for five essential points that can save your life—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had COVID.
Virus Expert Warns "This Surge is Not Done With by a Long Shot"
Although it may seem like the pandemic is basically over in some parts of the country, that's not the truth. "Fortunately activity seems to be letting up in states like Louisiana, Florida, Mississippi, Nevada, Arkansas, Missouri, great news," said Osterholm, "but at the same time, we're now seeing activity continue to trend upwards, and remain at high levels, in many other parts of the country. In the South, we still see Kentucky, South Carolina, West Virginia, Tennessee, even Texas in the Mountains, West Montana, Idaho and Wyoming in the Midwest, the Dakotas, Ohio, Indiana, even to some degree Minnesota. So right now we're really more or less in a holding pattern until we can get more people vaccinated. This virus is going to keep being transmitted. It may very well come down to a new baseline, which could be much higher than what it is. But this surge is not done with, by a long shot."
Virus Expert Says Keep Your Eyes on These Two Wild Cards
"We have seen a relative absence of cases in Southern California and in the Northeast, particularly in the New York City metropolitan area," said Osterholm. "We know we have large areas of under vaccinated populations in both of those geographic regions and why we've not seen cases take off is beyond me. We saw the same thing last summer—the Northeast and the Southwest was largely spared when we saw that Southern 'house on fire moment' with COVID. Now this year, we are seeing other areas of the country, but we haven't seen large major population centers in those two regions. If they light up at all in the next few weeks, that could fundamentally change what happens with this surge. If they don't, I know they will light up eventually—it's not done, but it will surely have an impact on this surge. The final piece: It's all about the kids, schools, schools, schools, and schools…Our kids right now are in the cross hairs of this virus in our schools, which are not prepared to reduce surely not stop transmission of this virus in those settings. And so that by itself could ignite a community-wide transmission when kids get infected and then bring it home to mom and dad, two brothers and sisters who were older, who could be vaccinated, who are not. At this point, these are the wildcards."
Virus Expert Shared This "Sobering" Statistic
"This is a figure which is a very sobering one," said Osterholm. "It's hard for me to even talk about it. In the past year from September 10th, 2020 to September 9th, 2021, there were 355 deaths in kids, zero to 17, 255, however, 82 or 23% have occurred in just the last month. That's up from 20% last week. The number of deaths and kids have now reached a range that far exceeds anything we see with even a severe influenza season. We are really an uncharted territories here."
Virus Expert Said This About Mandates
Regarding President Biden's plan for vaccine mandates, Osterholm said "we don't let people drive drunk on our highway just because they want to. And that is because of danger to society. We don't let them speed a hundred miles an hour. I can go through a number of issues, including routine childhood immunizations in our schools, which have not been challenged like we're seeing now with COVID vaccines. Surely we've always had some anti-vaccine population challenges, but nothing like now. What makes us different? And so the states really have not willingly taken this on in a way that would address the challenges we have." As a result, "hospitals were overrun with COVID cases. And so I'm fully supportive of this based on the safety of the vaccines based on the impact that they will have.
How to Stay Safe Out There
Follow the public health fundamentals and help end this pandemic, no matter where you live—get vaccinated ASAP; if you live in an area with low vaccination rates, wear an N95 face mask, don't travel, social distance, avoid large crowds, don't go indoors with people you're not sheltering with (especially in bars), practice good hand hygiene, and to protect your life and the lives of others, don't visit any of these 35 Places You're Most Likely to Catch COVID.