Jun 30, 2020 - Health

CDC expert warns U.S. has "way too much virus" to contain outbreak

 Anne Schuchat, principal deputy director for Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry in the CDC speaks during a news conference as President Trump and Vice President Mike Pence look on

CDC principal deputy director Anne Schuchat speaks during a February White House briefing as CDC director Robert Redfield, Vice President Mike Pence and President Trump look on. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

The novel coronavirus is spreading too widely and quickly to contain, CDC principal deputy director Anne Schuchat told The Journal of the American Medical Association Monday, warning she expects "this virus to continue to circulate."

Why it matters: Per Schuchat, "This is really the beginning, and what we hope is that we can take it seriously and slow the transmission." Her comments are in contrast to those of senior members of the Trump administration — notably Vice President Mike Pence, who said on Friday "we have made truly remarkable progress."

What else she's saying: "We have way too much virus across the country for that right now, so it’s very discouraging," Schuchat said in her interview with the Journal's Howard Bauchner.

  • She said there was "a lot of wishful thinking around the country" that the pandemic would be over by the summer. "We are not even beginning to be over this," Schuchat said. "There are a lot of worrisome factors about the last week or so."
"We're not in the situation of New Zealand or Singapore or Korea, where a new case is rapidly identified and all the contacts are traced and people are isolated who are sick and people who are exposed are quarantined and they can keep things under control."

Of note: World Health Organization director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said on Monday the pandemic is "far from over" and "is actually speeding up." "The worst is yet to come," he added.

By the numbers: Over 126,100 people have died from COVID-19 in the U.S., per Johns Hopkins. Almost 2.6 million Americans have tested positive from over 31 million tests. More than 705,200 have recovered from the virus.

What they're saying: White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany said at a briefing Monday, "We're aware that there are embers that need to be put out, but these signs of decreasing fatality, increased and enhanced therapeutics that we’ve identified — four of them: dexamethasone, convalescent plasma, and remdesivir, and one other — that they are working. Remdesivir, in particular, reduces hospital time by a third. 

  • "So these things make us uniquely equipped to handle the increasing cases that we’ve seen."

Go deeper: Pence disputes that virus surge was caused by states reopening too quickly

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