Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Director Dr. Robert Redfield made the warning during an interview with WebMD’s chief medical officer, Dr. John Whyte, when he questioned what Thanksgiving would look like this year and why some Americans refuse to wear a face mask, noting that “it seems like a small price.”
“I think it’s just dependent upon how the American people choose to respond,” Redfield said.
“For your country right now and for the war that we’re in against COVID, I’m asking you to do four simple things. Wear a mask, social distance, wash your hands and be smart about crowds,” he added.
If Americans follow those measures, Redfield said it will bring the outbreak down.
“But if we don’t do that, as I said last April, this could be the worst fall from a public health perspective [that] we’ve ever had,” he warned.
Redfield urged Americans to “really think deep down” to get the flu vaccine this year.
“By getting vaccinated, you can protect your children,” he said.
Last year, about 47% of people got the flu vaccine, and Redfield aims to push the figure up to 65% this year. He said that in the last 10 years, 360,000 people died in the U.S. from the flu.
“At one point in time in April, early May, 27% of all deaths in the United States [were] caused by pneumonia, influenza, or a COVID-like [illness],” Redfield said, adding that COVID-19 will be a “major cause of death” in the U.S. this year.
However, Redfield said that mortality is improving, partly because physicians are getting better at managing COVID-19 patients.
Redfield’s warning came as Johns Hopkins University reported 1,499 new COVID-19 deaths in the U.S. on Thursday, marking a new high for the country since the end of May. The U.S. has reported more than 5.2 million COVID-19 cases and 166,128 deaths, according to the university’s data.