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Former FDA commissioner Scott Gottlieb said on CBS News' "Face the Nation" that the coronavirus death toll in the U.S. will be "definitely" somewhere between 200,000 and 300,000 by the end of 2020.

Why it matters: "Whether we're closer to 200,000 or closer to 300,000 depends on what we do now and how it evolves," Gottlieb warned on Sunday as the U.S. surpassed five million confirmed coronavirus cases.

The big picture: The U.S. has the highest coronavirus death toll in the world with over 160,000 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University. Brazil has the second-most deaths with just over 100,000.

What he's saying: "We've now had two waves of this epidemic — the New York wave and the wave through the Sun Belt —which is receding, although Texas is showing an uptick in the last week and that needs to be followed closely," Gottlieb said.

  • "The concern now is that this has become so pervasive across the country that it could start to infect more rural communities that have largely been untouched to date and probably are a little more complacent," he continued.
  • "That's going to be far more difficult to control if it's more widespread. And we're seeing indications of that right now, the way it's spreading in the Midwest and the West."

What to watch: Older Americans tend to live in more rural communities and are the most vulnerable to the virus.

Go deeper

Updated 7 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Omicron dashboard

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

  1. Health: Pfizer and Moderna boosters overwhelmingly prevent Omicron hospitalizations, CDC finds — Omicron pushes COVID deaths toward 2,000 per day — The pandemic-proof health care giant.
  2. Vaccines: The case for Operation Warp Speed 2.0 — Starbucks drops worker vaccine or test requirement after SCOTUS ruling — Kids' COVID vaccination rates are particularly low in rural America.
  3. Politics: Biden concedes U.S. should have done more testing — Arizona says it "will not be intimidated" by Biden on anti-mask school policies — Federal judge blocks Biden's vaccine mandate for federal workers.
  4. World: American Airlines flight to London forced to turn around over mask dispute — WHO: COVID health emergency could end this year — Greece imposes vaccine mandate for people 60 and older — Austria approves COVID vaccine mandate for adults.
  5. Variant tracker
Nov 16, 2020 - Health

Moderna, Pfizer vaccines provide new hope as COVID-19 spreads rapidly

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Moderna has joined Pfizer in approaching the vaccine finish line, with a vaccine candidate the company says was 94.5% effective at preventing infection. Pfizer's candidate, announced last week, was over 90%.

Why it matters: There could be two U.S. vaccines in distribution before the New Year. This is a reason for Americans to buckle down for one last stretch to help save lives.

Nov 17, 2020 - Health

States enact new restrictions amid record COVID-19 hospitalizations

Photo: Spencer Platt/Getty Images

The number of people hospitalized with COVID-19 in the U.S. reached a new record high of 73,014 on Monday, per the COVID Tracking Project.

Driving the news: Governors in several states announced new restrictions to combat the wave of rapid COVID-19 spread, with fears that the numbers will continue to accelerate as people gather for the Thanksgiving holiday.

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