The U.S. will have the "worst fall" ever due to the coronavirus pandemic and flu season if Americans do not follow four "simple" guidelines, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director, Dr. Robert Redfield. In a new interview with WebMD, Redfield said Americans would need to continue wearing face masks, practice social distancing by staying six feet apart, washing hands with soap and warm water and avoid large crowds to slow the spread of the virus. Redfield's latest comments came after the U.S.' confirmed case total surpassed 5 million this week.
"I'm not asking some of America to do it — we all have to do it," Redfield said, adding that 95% to 99% of all Americans have to follow these guidelines. "It's dependent on how the American people choose to respond. "It's really the worst of times or the best of times, depending on the American public. I'm optimistic."
It is also important to get the flu vaccine this fall, Redfield said. Last year, only about 47% of Americans got one and the CDC is hoping to get that number up to 65%. The flu season will also leave hospitals already packed with coronavirus patients feeling even greater stress, he warned. Thankfully, the CDC bought millions of extra flu vaccine doses to reduce cases. "Please don't leave this important accomplishment of American medicine on the shelf," Redfield said. "This is a year that I'm asking people to really think deep down about getting the flu vaccine."
As for a coronavirus vaccine, Redfield told WebMD he is only "very cautiously optimistic" about there being one before 2020 is over. The testing for six potential vaccines is moving "extremely rapidly," and three candidates recently started phase III clinical trials. A fourth will reach the last stage soon, and the results for these trials could be ready by October or November. "No one can predict scientific success, but we think from a scientific threshold, developing a COVID vaccine is not as complex as... an HIV vaccine," Redfield said. "I'm very optimistic that we're going to have one or more vaccines available."
The U.S. is averaging 53,318 new coronavirus cases over the past seven days, a 6% decrease from the previous week, notes CNN. The virus continues to spread throughout the South, Midwest, and West. Georgia and Florida, where the governors have not issued statewide mask requirements, have seen the highest per capita new cases in the past week. The U.S. has reported 166,623 deaths as of Thursday, according to Johns Hopkins University.