Apr 22, 2020 - Health

CDC director attempts to clarify "second wave" remarks after Trump backlash

CDC Director Robert Redfield clarified comments he made in an interview with the Washington Post about the second wave of the coronavirus, stating at a press conference Wednesday that the winter outbreak won't necessarily be "worse," but rather "more difficult" because it will coincide with the seasonal flu.

Why it matters: President Trump called the headline in the Post — "CDC director warns second wave of coronavirus is likely to be even more devastating" — "ridiculous" and "fake news." Redfield said he found the headline "inappropriate" but that he was accurately quoted in the story, and that he hopes it will help convince Americans to get a flu shot.

What he's saying:

"The issue I was talking about being more difficult is that we're going to have two viruses circulating at the same time. This spring we had a benefit of having the flu season ending so we could use all our flu surveillance systems to say this is coronavirus, we need to focus. Next fall and winter, we are going to have two viruses circulating and we are going to have to distinguish between which is flu and which is coronavirus. And so the comment that I made — it's more difficult. It doesn't mean it's impossible, it doesn't mean it's going to be worse. It just means it's more difficult because we have to distinguish between the two."

Worth noting: Redfield tweeted out the Post article on Tuesday and did not make reference to the headline that he said he found "inappropriate."

The big picture: Anthony Fauci and Deborah Birx, members of the coronavirus task force and infectious disease experts, backed Redfield's assessment about coronavirus returning in the fall — even as Trump insisted that it "might not come back at all."

  • "What Dr. Redfield was saying, first of all, is that we will have coronavirus in the fall," Fauci said. "I am absolutely convinced of that because of the degree of transmissibility that it has come of the global nature. What happens with that will depend on how we are able to contain it when it occurs.
  • "What we are saying is that in the fall, we will be much, much better prepared to do the kind of containment compared to what happened to us this winter."

Go deeper

U.S. coronavirus updates

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins; Map: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios. This graphic includes "probable deaths" that New York City began reporting on April 14.

About 40.7 million Americans have filed for unemployment since the coronavirus pandemic began, including 2.1 million more claims filed from last week.

Why it matters: Even as states reopen their economies, Americans are still seeking relief. Revised data out Thursday also showed U.S. economy shrunk by an annualized 5% in the first quarter — worse than the initially estimate of 4.8%.

Fauci: Data is "really quite evident" against hydroxychloroquine for coronavirus

Anthony Fauci told CNN Wednesday that the scientific data "is really quite evident now about the lack of efficacy" of hydroxychloroquine as a coronavirus treatment.

Driving the news: The comments came in response to news that France on Wednesday banned the use of hydroxychloroquine to treat the virus, after a large retrospective study in The Lancet found an increased risk of heart problems and death among coronavirus patients who took the anti-malarial drug.

Mark Zuckerberg: Social networks should not be "the arbiter of truth"

Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg argued on CNBC's "Squawk Box" Thursday that social media platforms should not police political speech, and that "people should be able to see what politicians say.”

Why it matters: Zuckerberg was responding to Twitter's decision this week to fact-check a pair of President Trump's tweets that claimed that mail-in ballots are "substantially fraudulent." Twitter's label, which directs users to "get the facts" about mail-in voting, does not censor Trump's tweets.