Over half of the country is now in the “red zone,” Dr. Deborah Birx, a White House Coronavirus Task Force member told CNN Chief Medical Correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta in an exclusive interview, warning that this surge was unlike those in the past.
“When you look at what’s happening now, the rate of rise is dramatically different,” Birx said. “This is faster. It’s broader. And what worries me, it could be longer.”
As of Friday, the US was averaging 74,063 current hospitalizations over the last 7 days — up 19.13% compared to the previous week.
More than 2,000 American deaths were recorded by Johns Hopkins University on Thursday — the highest number since early May. And by December 18, more than 2,300 Americans could be losing their lives daily, according to the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME).
The group now predicts a total of 471,000 American deaths by March 1 — up more than 30,000 since their last projection about a week ago.
But amid the dire warnings are reassurances from experts that Americans merely need to wear masks, social distance and avoid social gatherings for a little while longer.
“It’s not forever. Good vaccines are coming, extraordinarily effective vaccines,” said Dr. Peter Hotez, dean of tropical medicine at the Baylor College of Medicine.
“So we’re going to have a much better place, definitely by this time next year, or even earlier — spring or summer,” he said. “Therefore, it’s your obligation to keep yourself and your family alive.”
“It’s all hands on deck,” he said.