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Infectious Disease Doctor Warns 'Darkest' Days Ahead

“The next six-to-12 weeks are going to be the darkest of the entire pandemic," he warns.
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Despite rosy pronouncements in some corners that "we're turning a corner" in the battle against coronavirus, many scientists used the weekend to warn Americans with cold hard facts: Things are about to get worse, with rising rases, rising hospitalizations and, therefore, possibly more deaths. Read on for the key takeaways, and don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had Coronavirus.   

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Dr. Michael Osterholm, an American epidemiologist, regents professor, and director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota, went on Meet the Press with host Chuck Todd to dispute the fact that we're close to ending the pandemic. "We're not really telling the complete story," he said. "We do have vaccines and therapeutics coming down the pike. But when you actually look at the time period for that, the next six-to-12 weeks are going to be the darkest of the entire pandemic. Vaccines will not become available in any meaningful way until early to third quarter of next year. And even then, half of the U.S. population, at this point, is skeptical of even taking the vaccine. So what we have right now is a major problem in messaging. You know, people don't know what to believe. And that's one of our huge challenges going forward, is we've got to get the message to the public that reflects the science and reflects reality."

He pointed to rising cases as proof of a communications problem.

"Right now, what we're about to go into, Chuck — when I was on this show last on September 13th, we had 33,000 cases reported that day. You may recall I warned that we were going to see a very dark fall. Friday, we had 70,000 cases, matching the largest number we had seen back during the really serious peak in July," he said. "That number, we're going to blow right through that. And between now and the holidays, we will see numbers much, much larger than even the 67,000 to 75,000 cases. No one has a good story about what to do there. And what I mean by a story, this is more than just science. This is bringing people together to understand, why are we doing this? This is an FDR Fireside Chat approach. And we're just not doing that."

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Azar Has a Similar Message—With More Optimism

On the same show, Alex Azar, the United States Secretary of Health and Human Services, appeared to alert Americans about the surge—and how to stop it.

Todd asked: "Who is leading the public health policy discussions on the federal government level," calling it "confusing right now," and Azar answered "the President" but called himself his emissary with a message we should all heed: "What matters right now is the message that we're trying to get across, which is: Cases are increasing. Cases are increasing and we're seeing this happen because we're getting colder weather and we're losing that natural social distancing that happens from being out of doors. And people are getting tired. The American people have given so much. We're seeing mitigation fatigue right now."

"Please," continued Azar, "my message to the American people, please practice those three W's. Wash your hands, watch your distance, wear your face coverings when you can't watch your distance. Stay out of settings where you can't do those things. And really, please, Chuck, tell your viewers: be mindful of those indoor household gatherings. Just because you're related to someone or friends with someone doesn't mean you can't transmit or get transmitted to." So practice those fundamentals, to protect your life and the lives of others, and don't visit any of these 35 Places You're Most Likely to Catch COVID.

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