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Michael Osterholm, director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota, warned on Sunday that the U.S. is at the precipice of a fourth surge of the coronavirus.

Why it matters: Data shows the U.S. may be at the start of a fourth wave that would foster the growth of new variants, which would likely be less susceptible to existing vaccines. A fourth surge would almost certainly be less deadly than the previous three, thanks to widespread vaccination of the elderly.

Driving the news: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Rochelle Walensky went off-script at a briefing last week and made an emotional plea to Americans not to let up on public health measures amid fears of a fourth wave.

  • “I'm going to reflect on the recurring feeling I have of impending doom," Walensky said, appearing to hold back tears.
  • "We do not have the luxury of inaction. For the health of our country, we must work together now to prevent a fourth surge."

What he's saying: "We're now, I think in that cycle where the upper Midwest is just now beginning to start this fourth surge. And I think it was a wake-up call to everyone yesterday when Michigan reported out 8,400 new cases," Osterholm said on Sunday.

  • "And we're now seeing an increasing number of severe illnesses, ICU and hospitalizations, in individuals who are between 30 and 50 years of age who have not been vaccinated."
  • "We're just at the beginning of this surge. We haven't even really begun to see it yet," he said.

But, but, but: "I think with the rate of vaccination that we're having right now ... I think that there's enough immunity in the population that you're not going to see a true fourth wave of infection," Scott Gottlieb, the former FDA commissioner, said on Sunday's "Face the Nation."

Go deeper: The fourth wave is here

Go deeper

Updated 4 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Vaccines: Key FDA committee takes on the big booster question — Los Angeles County to require vaccination proof at indoor bars — France suspends 3,000 unvaccinated health workers without pay.
  2. Health: Worsening crisis at Rikers Island jail spurs call for action — 1 in 500 Americans has died — Cases are falling, but deaths are rising.
  3. Politics: White House invites call with Nicki Minaj to discuss vaccine — Gottlieb says CDC hampered U.S. response — 26 states have limited state or local officials' public health powers.
  4. Education: Denver looks to students to close Latino vaccination gap — Federal judge temporarily blocks Iowa's ban on mask mandates in schools — Massachusetts activates National Guard to help with school transportation.
  5. Variant tracker: Where different strains are spreading.

Half of Latino renters depend on eviction relief

Members of the Los Angeles Tenants Union protest against evictions and give out food for the homeless in February. Photo: Valerie Macon/AFP via Getty Images

Around 56% of Hispanic renters said in March, before an U.S. eviction moratorium was extended, that they were otherwise likely to be forced to leave their homes in the next two months, per Census data.

Why it matters: Evictions contribute to a greater spread of COVID-19 as people experiencing homelessness end up in crowded infection-prone situations, according to studies, and coronavirus is already more easily spread among Latino families due to cramped living conditions and multigenerational homes.

1 hour ago - Health

FDA advisory panel recommends Pfizer boosters for those 65 and older

A healthcare worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine at the Key Biscayne Community Center on Aug. 24, 2021. Photo: Eva Marie Uzcategui/Bloomberg via Getty Images

A key Food and Drug Administration advisory panel on Friday overwhelmingly voted against recommending Pfizer vaccine booster shots for younger Americans, but unanimously recommended approving the third shots for individuals 65 and older, as well as those at high-risk of severe COVID-19.

Why it matters: While the votes are non-binding, and the FDA must still make a final decision, Friday's move pours cold water on the Biden administration's plan to begin administering boosters to most individuals who received the Pfizer vaccine later this month.