The coronavirus pandemic in the U.S. will face its darkest period so far over the next three to four months as cases continue to surge above 100,000 per day, a newly-appointed coronavirus advisor to President-elect Joe Biden said on Monday.
“What America has to understand is that we are about to enter Covid hell,” Dr. Michael Osterholm, director for the Center of Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota, told CNBC’s “Squawk Alley.” “It is happening.”
The U.S. is reporting a record-high weekly average of roughly 108,736 cases every day, growing more than 33% compared with a week ago, according to a CNBC analysis of data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.
That figure is has grown dramatically in recent weeks, sending the U.S. pandemic deeper into its third peak ahead of Thanksgiving and Christmas. After a summer of surging infections across America’s Sun Belt states, the country was able to suppress the average number of cases to just above 30,000 a day in early September.
After Labor Day, Osterholm said he warned the U.S. would see an “astronomical” increase in new cases. That prediction has come true in only a matter of weeks, he said, adding that “this number is going to continue to increase substantially.”
“We have not even come close to the peak and, as such, our hospitals are now being overrun,” Osterholm said. “The next three to four months are going to be, by far, the darkest of the pandemic.”
And while Pfizer’s early Covid-19 vaccine data showing more than 90% effectiveness is “a great great finding,” Osterholm said that more data is needed to understand how effective the vaccine is preventing serious illness and death versus more mild symptoms.
“Until we have those pieces of information, we can’t really know how much of a game changer this really is,” he said.
This is a developing story. Please check back later for updates.