The Joe Biden COVID adviser most bullish on pandemic shutdowns to mitigate the spread, Dr. Michael Osterholm, said Sunday we need to consider this a 1918-level public health emergency, because Americans will begin "dying on the streets."
"We are in a very dangerous period, the most dangerous public health period since 1918," Osterholm told NBC News' "Meet the Press." "And if we don't basically take important steps like stop swapping air with our, our neighbors, our friends, our colleagues, we're going to see these numbers grow substantially."
People need to spread out to slow the spread, Osterholm stressed to host Chuck Todd.
"It's very important that, first of all, we don't swap air with people," he said. "That's how this is being transmitted."
Short of that, Osterholm expects us to start dying in the streets, emergency rooms waiting to be seen.
"You know, my worst fear is what we saw happen in other countries, where people were dying on the streets," he said. "People literally were dying in the waiting room of emergency rooms after spending ten hours just waiting to be seen. That's going to start happening.
"The media will start reporting it and we will see the breadth and the depth of this tragedy. That, I hope, will not be the way that we finally decide to reduce our risk, this idea of swapping air. We've got to stop doing that.
"And so, I think it is the healthcare system's breaking, literally breaking, that will unfortunately bring us to a sense of reality of what we must do in the short term."
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