Coronavirus pandemic ‘darkest’ period is yet to come, leading infectious disease physician warns

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Radiologists prepare to take an x-ray image in the room of a COVID-19 patient in the intensive care unit at MedStar St. Mary’s Hospital in Leonardtown, Maryland.

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“The next six to 12 weeks will be the darkest of the entire pandemic.
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It was Dr. Michael Osterholm, director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota, who issued a blunt warning on NBC’s “Meet the Press” on Sunday.

“We have vaccines and therapeutics coming up,” Osterholm said, although any “significant” vaccine availability won’t happen until perhaps the third quarter of 2021.

“Even then, half of the American population, at this point, is skeptical about even taking the vaccine,” he said, pointing to a lack of clear leadership. “What we have now is a major messaging problem.”

Osterholm said Friday’s 70,000 cases in the United States – the most since peaking in July – are just the start of a very difficult period.

“This number, we’re going to blow through that,” he told NBC’s Chuck Todd. “And between now and the holidays, we’ll see numbers much larger than the 67,000 to 75,000 cases.”

Watch the full show, with Osterholm appearing at 11:35 PM:

There have been more than 8.1 million cases of COVID-19 in the United States, according to Johns Hopkins University, with more than 219,000 deaths.

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