Oct. 7 (UPI) — The United States’ top infectious diseases expert has warned that 400,000 people nationwide could be dead from COVID-19 by this winter if people don’t follow recommended health guidelines.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told students at American University in Washington, D.C., Tuesday that a second wave of the coronavirus in the forthcoming colder months has the potential to be very deadly.
“The models tell us that if we do not do the kinds of things that we’re talking about in the cold of the fall and the winter, we could have from 300,000 to 400,000 deaths,” he said. “That would be just so tragic, if that happens.”
Fauci also refuted a tweet from President Donald Trump Tuesday that likened COVID-19 to influenza.
“You don’t get a pandemic that kills a million people and it isn’t even over yet with influenza,” Fauci told NBC News. “So it is not correct to say it’s the same as flu. It has some overlapping symptomatology early on. But flu doesn’t do the things to you that COVID-19 can.”
Trump’s tweet was later deleted by Twitter for violating its policy against spreading misleading and potentially harmful information.
Updated data from Johns Hopkins University showed 43,500 new cases nationwide on Tuesday, an increase of about 4,000 over Monday. Deaths also spiked on Tuesday to about 700, the most in nearly a week.
Since the start of the outbreak, there have been 7.51 million cases and 211,100 deaths nationwide, according to Johns Hopkins.
There has been an average of about 45,000 new cases per day in the United States so far in October.
In Georgia, Gov. Brian Kemp and state health officials warned Wednesday of a “twindemic” of COVID-19 and the flu. He and Health Commissioner Dr. Kathleen Toomey urged Georgians to get flu shots, wear masks and follow distancing guidelines.
Toomey said the twin epidemics could be “devastating.”
Georgia’s 7-day average of new cases rose by 3.4% this week, although it’s down 67% from its peak in late July.
In Kentucky, Gov. Andy Beshear renewed his face mask order for another 30 days and reported more than 1,000 cases Monday — the third-highest total to date.
“We are experiencing an escalation … and it is significant,” he told reporters, saying the state is on track to surpass 6,100 cases this week.
In Wisconsin, Gov. Tony Evers issued a statewide order restricting indoor public gatherings at certain businesses. His third order in recent weeks limits gatherings to 25% capacity and builds on an existing face mask mandate.
“We’re in a crisis right now and need to immediately change our behavior to save lives,” he said.
Occupancy in Wisconsin hospital beds earmarked for COVID-19 patients is near 800, a record.
“We are continuing to experience a surge in cases and many of our hospitals are overwhelmed, and I believe limiting indoor public gatherings will help slow the spread of this virus,” Evers said.