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April 21, 2020, 7:56 p.m. EDT

CDC director warns second wave of coronavirus could be even worse

Robert Redfield says winter could bring simultaneous influenza and COVID-19 outbreaks, overwhelming hospitals

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By Mike Murphy


AFP/Getty Images
CDC Director Robert Redfield speaks at a White House briefing on April 16.

The head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is warning that the worst of the coronavirus pandemic may be yet to come.

‘There’s a possibility that the assault of the virus on our nation next winter will actually be even more difficult than the one we just went through.’

That’s what Robert Redfield, director of the CDC, is quoted as having told the Washington Post in an interview published Tuesday.

Next winter, “we’re going to have the flu epidemic and the coronavirus epidemic at the same time,” he reportedly told the Post, likely putting massive pressure on America’s health-care system.

Redfield said the combination of coronavirus and seasonal flu could overwhelm hospitals and again create shortages in medical equipment and hospital beds.

He stressed the importance of getting a flu shot in the fall in order to keep the number of hospitalizations down, and said the U.S. dodged a bullet with the COVID-19 pandemic striking after the winter flu season had peaked. Had they occurred at the same time, “it could have been really, really, really, really difficult in terms of health capacity,” he said.

Redfield said states and the federal government should use the coming months to scale up the country’s testing capacity, and that people should maintain social-distancing practices even after the current restrictions are lifted.

More than 800,000 people have tested positive for COVID-19 in the U.S., as of Tuesday, with more than 43,000 deaths.

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