Coronavirus cases have been trending in the wrong direction in recent weeks, with hospitalizations and deaths increasing as the weather has gotten colder.
“It will get worse in the winter, assuming we don’t change course,” Dr. Andre Campbell, an ICU doctor and trauma surgeon at Zuckerberg San Francisco General hospital, told Yahoo Finance Live (video above). “We’re going to have to change course and move forward. The masking, the distancing, the hand washing, all these things. If we had a national mandate, we may reduce the number of deaths by 70, 80,000. I think that’s one way we can go because that’s something we can do. Protects me and protects you, we can do that together.”
Public health experts have long warned about the dangers of the coronavirus in the winter months since people will be spending more time indoors.
“That’s a bad place to be when you’re going into the cooler weather of the fall and the colder weather of the winter,” Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), said recently. “We’re in a bad place now. We’ve got to turn this around.”
The U.S. surpassed 100,000 daily cases earlier this week, an all-time high, indicating the trajectory will only get worse.
“Daily cases are skyrocketing,” President-Elect Joe Biden, who will reportedly announce a coronavirus task force on Monday, said on Friday night, “and it is now believed that we could see spikes as many as 200,000 cases in a single day.
Over the last seven days, cases have particularly increased in states like Minnesota, Iowa, Colorado, and Maine. Still, most other states are also seeing significant rises.
“The pandemic is clearly out of control,” Campbell said. “It’s going up in 42 to 45 states out of 50. We’re at about 90-100,000 cases a day … So, the pandemic is really still ongoing. We have to have the science” driving the response.
‘We’re going to go through a very dark period’
“Masking will reduce it some, but if we’re going to have to do it, we’ll do it,” Campbell said. “But I think it’s better for us to think more broadly and doing the masking as opposed to doing a lockdown. But we have to do what we have to do to save lives because we can’t have more cases going up north of 100, 150,000 cases, which may well happen in the winter.”
Being insider makes it harder to social distance and thereby increase the risk of transmitting the virus.
“What’s going to happen is, you’ve heard from Dr. Fauci and Dr. Birx, that we’re going to go through a very dark period,” Campbell said. “If we’re at 90 or 100,000 cases, once it gets really cold and everybody goes inside, we’re going to have it even higher. We may go north of 100,000. We may get up to 500,000 people dying. North of 230,000 people have died from this.”
A ‘political’ pandemic
“It’s become political,” Campbell said. “You wear a mask, it’s political. It is not political. It is common sense. It is public health policy. We have to move forward by doing that together.”
The main priority he added, is to develop a national policy towards the pandemic.
“That’s really what’s been the failure,” he said. “In my opinion, we’ve not had a national policy about how we’re going to attack it. If things change and Mr. Biden gets in, I hope that we will have a national plan where we will be able to face this together. Because the only way we’re going to do this is to do it together and right now, we’re a bit split apart because of all the issues. Things have become political that are not political, and that’s really part of the problem.”
Adriana Belmonte is a reporter and editor covering politics and health care policy for Yahoo Finance. You can follow her on Twitter @adrianambells.