Leading epidemiologist, and director of the Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota, Michael Osterholm, has declared “Category 5 hurricane status” for Midwest US as it now enters its fourth pandemic wave. He told NBC’s Meet the Press,
"Let me say that, at this time, we really are in a category five hurricane status with regard to the rest of the world."
Previous Covid-19 waves followed a certain pattern in the spread, and that’s just what seems to be happening yet again. Osterholm noted that in the case of the US, the surges circulate between different regions, often beginning in the Upper Midwest and Northeast. These rising numbers then subside but spread to nearby southern states, which then subside by spreading back where they began. Thus coming back full circle.
Osterholm pointed to Michigan where infections have risen exponentially in a matter of days. The state reported more than 8400 new cases on Saturday, which Osterholm called “a wake-up call for everyone”.
Osterholm believes that these numbers are “just the beginning of the fourth wave” particularly in the Upper Midwest. Worse is yet to come.
Worryingly enough, the second-highest cases of the more contagious B.1.1.7 variant have been reported in Michigan as well. And now these numbers include more severe cases and those too in the younger demographic between the ages of 30 and 50.
Osterholm brought to light how this same B.1.1.7 variant has spread in Minnesota in yet more alarming ways. The variant has been reported in 749 schools meaning it is infecting children just as much. The epidemiologist added,
“The B117 variant is a brand new ballgame. In fact, right here in Minnesota, we're now seeing the other aspect of this B.1.1.7 variant that hasn't been talked much about, and that is the fact that it infects kids very readily."
Osterholm then spoke about the pandemic, globally and in the US, delivering the final warning.
“At this point, we will see in the next two weeks the highest number of cases reported globally since the beginning of the pandemic. In terms of the United States, we're just at the beginning of this surge, we haven't even really begun to see it yet."
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