In a bold move, the White House Coronavirus Task Force said it’s time for public health officials to bypass any insufficient state mitigation efforts and “alert the state population directly” as COVID-19 cases surge. “We are in a very dangerous place due to the current, extremely high COVID baseline and limited hospital capacity; a further post-Thanksgiving surge will compromise COVID patient care, as well as medical care overall,” a Nov. 29 report to states says. “If state and local policies do not reflect the seriousness of the current situation, all public health officials must alert the state population directly,” it adds.
Coronavirus cases are now trending at well over 150,000 per day in the U.S., and coronavirus-related deaths are at over 2,000 individuals per day. State and local COVID-19 policies are falling short, the task force said in guidance provided to states. New record numbers of infections and hospitalizations are being reached every day. As officials prepare for a post-Thanksgiving surge, the task force encouraged health officials to ask anyone under the age of 40 who gathered with people outside their household to act as if they were infected with the virus. They also emphasized increased caution for the elderly and people who are immunocompromised. “It must be made clear that if you are over 65 or have significant health conditions, you should not enter any indoor public spaces where anyone is unmasked due to the immediate risk to your health; you should have groceries and medications delivered,” the report says. On Wednesday, the director of the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) said the U.S. could see up to 450,000 deaths from COVID-19 before February. These next few months will be “the most difficult in the public health history of this nation,” said Dr. Robert Redfield, director of the CDC.