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New CDC Chief Issues Urgent COVID Warning

“By the middle of February, we expect half a million deaths in this country,” she warned.
FACT CHECKED BY Emilia Paluszek
Rochelle Walensky

With nearly 4,000 American deaths a day from coronavirus (sometimes more) and nearly 400,000 American deaths total (with more to come), we are in the worst months of the pandemic. Incoming Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) head Rochelle Walensky, current chief of infectious diseases at Massachusetts General Hospital, appeared on CBS' Face the Nation yesterday with a warning about just that, predicting "some dark weeks ahead." Read on—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had Coronavirus

The Worst Months are Ahead of Us, Walensky Warned

Dr. Walensky was asked if she thought the worst months are ahead of us. "Unfortunately, I do, I think that," she said, quoting the death rate mentioned above. "By the middle of February, we expect half a million deaths in this country. That doesn't speak to the tens of thousands of people who are living with a yet uncharacterized syndrome after they've recovered." She was referring to Post-COVID Syndrome, or Long COVID, which can result in months, possibly a lifetime, of fatigue, pains, and neurological symptoms. "And we still yet haven't seen the ramifications of what happened from the holiday travel, from holiday gathering in terms of high rates of hospitalizations and the deaths thereafter. So, yes, I think we still have some dark weeks ahead."

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The New COVID-19 Mutation is Cause For "Worry"

The new, more transmissible COVID-19 variant—one from the U.K., others from South Africa and Brazil—may not get you sicker than the original, but it is expected to get more people sicker faster. "When we see these mutations, we worry about several things," said Walensky. "We worry about whether they have increased transmissibility." The new one does, according to the U.K. "We worry about whether they have increased morbidity and mortality. We worry about whether they will evade our mechanisms of either treatment or our vaccines. So far, the one from the U.K. looks like it is more transmissible. We don't have any more information about whether it evades our vaccines. We have indication that it likely does not."

"But what increased transmissibility means," she continued, "is there are more cases and therefore more deaths."

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How to Survive This Pandemic—and this Mutation

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation's top infectious disease expert and the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, has said the new variant is yet another reason to get vaccinated ASAP. "The easiest way to evade this negative effect of these new isolates is to just when the vaccine becomes available, people should get vaccinated," Dr. Fauci said on Meet the Press yesterday. "Boy, if ever there was a clarion call for people to put aside vaccine hesitancy. If we can get the overwhelming majority of the population vaccinated, we'd be in very good shape and could beat even the mutant." 

Walensky admitted there were "bottlenecks" preventing some people to get that vaccine, but pledged that "our job is to make sure that with the entire support of the federal government that we address all of those bottlenecks wherever we are so we can get vaccine into people's arms."

So follow Fauci's fundamentals and help end this surge, no matter where you live—wear a face mask, social distance, avoid large crowds, don't go indoors with people you're not sheltering with (especially in bars), practice good hand hygiene, get vaccinated when it becomes available to you, and to protect your life and the lives of others, don't visit any of these 35 Places You're Most Likely to Catch COVID.

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