With winter in full swing and flu season on the horizon, the surge in covid-19 cases currently seen across the US and the world is even more concerning. The reality is that the cold weather, flu season, and coronavirus could be a perfect storm of events leading to a potentially devastating winter.
Just in the first week of December, coronavirus cases jumped by more than 40% in New York, with more than 60,000 new cases reported. Other states, including Texas and California, are seeing similar devastating surges, potentially confirming the warnings issued by top officials, such as Dr. Anthony Fauci, about the effects of Thanksgiving travel.
White House Health Advisor Dr. Deborah Birx
The current White House health advisor, Dr. Deborah Birx, issued a dire warning about a winter coronavirus surge. In a masked appearance on NBC’s Meet The Press, Dr. Birx warned that the currently escalating coronavirus surge is on track to be the most trying event in US history, and not just from a public health perspective. Hospitals are already struggling to keep up with the rising number of cases, and the surge is only continuing to ramp up. Her warnings come in line with a slew of cautionary tales from other top public health officials, including CDC director Dr. Robert Redfield, who called the winter coronavirus surge “the most difficult time in the public health history of this nation.”
Dr. Birx warned Americans that their behavior needs to change in advance of the upcoming holiday season, urging them to stay home and avoid gatherings. The number of daily covid-19 deaths in the US exceeded 3,000 in early December. Daily deaths were already high before the Thanksgiving holiday, and this number will likely continue to rise as a direct consequence of widespread travel for Thanksgiving.
Though she acknowledged vaccines on the horizon, Dr. Birx noted that most people are not likely to have access to the vaccine for several months. The reality is that even adults over 65—an at-risk group—may not have wide access to a vaccine until the first or second quarter of 2021. Healthcare workers and nursing facility residents are currently being prioritized during the initial vaccine roll-out.
As 2020 winds to a close, many people are feeling fatigued with nearly a year spent isolating, wearing masks, and worrying about disease. For many, parties and family gatherings are an essential part of the winter holidays—one that’s hard to forgo. However, the reality is that public health officials are sounding the alarm. We must still be cautious, to protect ourselves and our loved ones, now more than ever. With vaccines rolling out, hope is on the horizon, but we still must clear a few final hurdles first.