Redfield: This Fall Could Be ‘Worst’ We’ve Seen

The surging coronavirus pandemic, paired with the flu season, could create the “worst fall” that “we’ve ever had,” he said during an interview on “Coronavirus in Context,” a video series hosted by John Whyte, MD, WebMD’s chief medical officer.

Coronavirus in Context: CDC Director Discusses Next Steps in the War Against COVID

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Coronavirus in Context: CDC Director Discusses Next Steps in the War Against COVID
WebMD’s Chief Medical Officer, John Whyte, speaks with Robert Redfield, MD, Director, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about next steps in the war against COVID.
Redfield also said the agency’s efforts to understand the virus were hampered by a lack of cooperation from China.  He reached out to China CDC Director George Gao on Jan. 3 to see if the agency could work with health officials in Wuhan to better understand the outbreak. But he never received an invitation, Redfield said.

“I think if we had been able to get in at that time, we probably would have learned quicker than we learned here,” Redfield said.

Now as fall approaches, the outbreak’s severity will depend on Americans following CDC guidelines to prevent the spread of COVID-19: wearing face masks, staying 6 feet away from others, washing hands often with soap and warm water, and being smart about crowd gatherings.

“I’m not asking some of America to do it — we all have to do it,” Redfield said. This is one of those interventions where 95% to 99% of people have to do it for it to work, he said.

When asked what the pandemic could look like by Thanksgiving, Redfield invoked the opening of Charles Dickens’s classic 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.”

Those same precautions could reduce transmission of the flu. Worldwide, the flu is at “lower levels than expected for this time of the year,” the World Health Organization reports in its latest influenza update. Hand hygiene and social distancing have played a role, the WHO says.
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