A prominent infectious disease official said Sunday the United States is in the “eye of the hurricane” amid the yearlong coronavirus pandemic.
In an interview on NBC News’ “Meet The Press,” Dr. Michael Osterholm, the director of the Center For Disease Research at the University of Minnesota, said the appearances of things getting better is ignoring virus variants that are becoming an increasing threat.
“We are in the eye of the hurricane right now,” he said. “It appears that things are going very well. You would see blue skies. We've been through a terrible, terrible year. What we know is about to come upon us is the situation with this … variant, a virus that originated in the United Kingdom that today is wreaking havoc in Europe.”
According to Osterholm, the virus variant has been spreading in schools and “tough days ahead” for both the old and the young.
“The other thing we see right now is every governor wants to open schools. And I understand that…. But the problem is, if you look at Europe, right now the challenge we're seeing is a lot of transmission in schools with this new variant,” he said.
“We're going to have some tough days ahead in the older population and in the younger population with this new variant virus,” he asserted.
Yet Osterholm also acknowledged vaccinated people won’t want to continue to be locked down in another virus surge.”
“We have to acknowledge that what is the public likely to do with any guidance that we give them,” he said. “If we just tell people they've got to stay cocooned, that they've got to stay in their homes, they've got to continue to wear their mask even though they're fully vaccinated, they're not going to do that. They're going to disregard the public health recommendation. We have to get real.’
“I hope the [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention] guidance acknowledges that people are not going to do the extreme of staying masked through 2022,” he added.
“What we can provide [is] reasonable information that gives them the best case for protecting themselves. You wouldn't catch me tonight in a crowded restaurant somewhere even with my vaccination. I think that's what we have to concentrate on. Let them do the kinds of things that are really much safer.”
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