(CNSNews.com) - Dr. Michael Osterholm, an epidemiologist and member of Joe Biden's COVID-19 advisory board, told Fox News on Tuesday he expects cases to keep escalating with the arrival of cold weather and the holidays.
He is on record as advocating another lockdown.
Well, you know, at Labor Day we were at about 32,000 cases a day reported in this country, and people assumed that that number would continue to drop from that high of 67,000 earlier in the summer. And many of us saw that that wasn't the case at all.
That, in fact, with pandemic fatigue, the idea of people who believe that the pandemic is real but are just tired of dealing with the virus, a large segment of the population, up to a third of it, which experience what I call pandemic anger, people who don't believe the pandemic is real and that it was just a politically motivated issue, and you put that together with indoor air, the idea of more people inside sharing air with people means that we could easily see cases go far north of the 125,000 reporting this past week.
It would not surprise me if by the time we get to the holidays we could be reporting over 200,000 cases a day.
Osterholm said the American people need to understand that the virus is "really dangerous," and it is spreading in private homes when the masks come off.
He said the next 12 to 14 weeks "are likely to be the darkest period in this entire pandemic."
"Would that mean we have to shut down?" Fox Business host Maria Bartiromo asked him:
Well, I think, you know, one of the things, Maria, that's been really troubling to me has been this distinction between the economy versus COVID health. They're one and the same. If we have runaway cases, the economy is going to suffer miserably. And I don't think the markets or anyone yet realizes the extent to which that is the case.
You know, in the first week of August, Neel Kashkari, the president of the Minneapolis Federal Reserve Bank, and I authored an op-ed piece in "The New York Times" in which we said basically we needed to, in a sense, lock down with the idea that the -- what we were doing basically was, in fact, giving us time to get the virus under control and then going from there.
And we would pay for it, meaning that we would actually borrow from our savings in this country to pay for that. And that went nowhere. And that's a real challenge.
In that Aug. 7 op-ed, Osterholm and Kashkari wrote: "We believe the choice is clear. We can continue to allow the coronavirus to spread rapidly throughout the country or we can commit to a more restrictive lockdown, state by state, for up to six weeks to crush the spread of the virus to less than one new case per 100,000 people per day.
"That’s the point at which we will be able to limit the increase in new cases through aggressive public health measures, just as other countries have done. But we’re a long way from there right now.
Osterholm and Kashkari said efforts to contain the virus in this county have failed because "we gave up on our lockdown efforts to control virus transmission well before the virus was under control."
They also said mitigation measures only go so far: "We support the wearing of masks by all Americans, but masking mandates and soft limitations on indoor crowds in places such as bars and restaurants are not enough to control this pandemic."
According to the latest data from the federal Centers for Disease Control Prevention, 122,910 new COVID cases were reported in the past 24 hours, or 34.6 cases per 100,000 people in the last seven days.
Total deaths, based on death certificates submitted to CDC, stand at 237,731, or 0.3 per 100,000 people in the last seven days.