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Virus Expert Just Gave This Warning For Next 3 to 4 Weeks

Expect delays, disruptions, hospitalizations and lots of infections.
FACT CHECKED BY Emilia Paluszek

With COVID cases now topping one million daily in America—an unheard of number—experts are saying to look at hospitalizations as the key factor, since Omicron may be less severe. Unfortunately, many hospitals are overwhelmed or expect to be, due to the sheer number of people getting infected, no matter the disease severity. Getting vaccinated and bosted can increase your chances of having a mild illness, but the country as a whole will be terribly affected by COVID in the next 3 to 4 weeks, as the infections disrupt everything you depend upon. How so? Virus expert Dr. Michael Osterholm appeared on The Morning News with Vineeta Sawkar to lay it all out. Read on for 6 essential life-saving points—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had COVID.


Dr. Osterholm Said Our Medical Professionals Will be Overwhelmed

Medical staff work in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) for COVID-19 multiple patients inside a hospital.

Osterholm predicts that "we're gonna see much, much more transmission of this virus. I've been saying for the last four to five weeks that this is gonna be a viral blizzard. We understand blizzards in Minnesota"—where he is from—"it can shut down virtually everything for at least a limited period of time. This one I think is gonna happen over the course of the next three to four weeks where we're gonna see so many people who are ill —in fact, they are gonna be out. But fortunately this is a milder disease than we've seen with Delta. The challenge being of course of you have many, many more times people infected than would be with Delta. Even if you have a smaller proportion having severe disease, it can still challenge our healthcare systems."


Dr. Osterholm Said You're Going to See Staff Shortages Everywhere, From Airports to Hospitals, Due to Illness

Tired exhausted female scrub nurse

"What this is doing, which is what we have not seen with the previous surges of COVID, has been taking people out of the workplace for five to 10 days because they're infected. They may only have mild illness, which is a good thing of course" but "the bottom line is if you can't work, then you basically are gonna watch systems in our country—of delivery, of services like what's happening in the airline industry—clearly weather has played a role, but if you look at the number of flight crews throughout, ground crews, FAA, air traffic control towers, TSA, suddenly the whole system and gets clogged up. If you're looking at healthcare systems, you're looking at not only people being hospitalized there, but people who work there need to be there. And if you take 10 to 20% of healthcare workers out for five to 10 days, suddenly that hanging on by the skin of your teeth problem becomes a much more significant problem."


Dr. Osterholm Said These Shortages Will Affect Everything You Use in Your Life

empty walmart aisle
Hrach Hovhannisyan/Shutterstock

"We're seeing it in retail. We're seeing it in grocery stores right now—if delivery trucks can't make it to the store because they're so short on truckers, the warehouses are short. We're already hearing of pharmacies that are now advising people: It may take four or five days to get their prescriptions filled because they have so few pharmacists, as well as people who are stocking the shelves with the drugs that are coming from the warehouses. This is the add-on event of this particular wave that is so critical that we just have to get through and we will, but it's expect things to be different over the next few weeks."


Dr. Osterholm Said This is Why COVID Testing is So Hard to Come By in Many Areas

Close-up of young man getting PCR test at doctor's office during coronavirus epidemic.

"The problem we have right now is that the surge has created such a tremendous demand for testing, not just in the United States, but around the world," said Dr. Osterholm. "And in fact, the United Kingdom, which is a country that prides itself on having widespread testing, readily available home testing, you know, are now also in the very same position we're in. They have virtually an absence of testing there because of the challenges of just the surge of use. In addition, think about even what's happening with our own testing program. It's not just a test available, but are you gonna have people that can run the testing center? Are you gonna have people who work in the laboratories that do the test? And we're seeing all of these areas impacted. We've had a number of testing facilities around the country shut down over the past week, just because there were so many people sick who were supposed to be doing the testing."

"That's the kind of thing I'm talking about. That's a challenge," he added. "Now, when you're talking about over the counter tests, clearly the same thing, and I just talked about the supply chains. You know, if you can't even get the test to the store, even if you have 'em in the warehouse, what does that mean?"


Dr. Osterholm Worries About Schools Reopening for This Key Reason

Girl with face mask back at school after covid-19 quarantine and lockdown.

"I worry about school starting again. Everybody wants to test every student coming in the first time," says Dr. Osterholm. "Well, you know what? That's like fixing one of the five screen doors in your submarine. You could just either be positive of tomorrow the next day or the next day. If you're not testing every day, testing one time is just a feel good activity. Yet I see schools all over the country now proudly saying, we're gonna keep this virus out by testing all of our students who are gonna come back to school once. That not gonna cut it."


How to Stay Safe Out There

Female Doctor hands holding vaccine bottle and syringe.

Follow the public health fundamentals and help end this pandemic, no matter where you live—get vaccinated or boosted ASAP; if you live in an area with low vaccination rates, wear an N95 face mask, don't travel, social distance, avoid large crowds, don't go indoors with people you're not sheltering with (especially in bars), practice good hand hygiene, 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.

Alek Korab
Alek Korab is a Co-Founder and Managing Editor of the ETNT Health channel on Eat This, Not That! Read more about Alek
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