The CDC chief is emphasizing the importance of following guidelines and getting the flu shot this fall
With fall just around the corner, a top federal health official is issuing a dire warning: follow COVID guidelines and get a flu shot, or be prepared to see the worst fall season in U.S. public health history. Mask-wearing, hand-washing, and social distancing adherence is going to play a crucial role this fall.
Dr. Robert Redfield, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, is asking everyone in the country to take the pandemic as seriously as possible in the coming months. Earlier this week, over 55,000 new COVID-19 cases were reported as well as 1,499 deaths — which is the highest number of coronavirus-related deaths since May.
“For your country right now and for the war that we’re in against Covid, I’m asking you to do four simple things: wear a mask, social distance, wash your hands and be smart about crowds,” Dr. Redfield told WebMD. “I’m not asking some of America to do it. We all gotta do it.”
Failure to adhere to social distancing guidelines and other pandemic recommendations could result in dire consequences for the United States. Dr. Redfield believes it could be “the worst fall, from a public health perspective, we’ve ever had.”
When asked what the pandemic could look like by Thanksgiving, Redfield compared it to Charles Dickens’s novel A Tale of Two Cities: “It’s dependent on how the American people choose to respond,” he said. “It’s really the worst of times or the best of times, depending on the American public. I’m optimistic.”
In addition to following COVID guidelines, people should also get a flu vaccine. Flu season coupled with the pandemic will likely result in an overwhelmed healthcare system. The World Health Organization is reporting that so far, the flu is at “lower levels than expected” for this point in the year. WHO says hand hygiene and social distancing have played a role in keeping those numbers down.
Redfield is urging Americans to still get a flu vaccine. Last year, about 47% of Americans got one, but this year’s goal for the CDC is for 65% of Americans to get the flu shot. The CDC has purchased millions of extra doses to distribute this fall to reduce the number of cases.
“Please don’t leave this important accomplishment of American medicine on the shelf,” he said. “This is a year that I’m asking people to really think deep down about getting the flu vaccine.”
Schools that have reopened for the year have already quarantined due to the rapid spread of the virus. More than 2,000 students, teachers and staff have been placed under quarantine in the few reopened districts in several states, according to CNN. Of those, at least 230 positive coronavirus cases have been reported among the school districts reopened for in-person learning.
In Georgia, more than 1,100 students, teachers and staff in the Cherokee County School District are under quarantine due to dozens of Covid-19 positive cases or exposure. Schools in the county reopened just 10 days ago.
For his part, Redfield is urging Americans to remember that we still don’t know many things about COVID-19, but we do know that it’s incredibly infectious — which is why distancing, wearing masks, and hand hygiene are all still necessary and vital in preventing the virus.
“The thing that surprised us the most was how infectious this virus is,” Redfield said.