CDC director Dr. Robert Redfield says during a Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C.
Kevin Dietsch | Reuters
Coronavirus-attributed deaths are expected to decline over the next week, said the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Dr. Robert Redfield, on Thursday.
According to the Johns Hopkins University, new cases of the coronavirus have been falling steadily since the end of July. Deaths, which lag behind new cases of people getting sick, hospitalized and dying, have remained stubbornly high, with an average of about 1,000 new Covid-19 deaths per day, according to a CNBC analysis of Hopkins data.
Redfield added that he wants to bring the number of new deaths every day below 250, a number the country almost reported on a day in early July.
"You and I will see the cases keep falling. And then hopefully this week and next week you will see that the death rate really goes down again." Redfield said in an interview with Dr. Howard Bauchner of the Journal of the American Medical Association. "I think we'll see a decline in mortality across the country starting next week as we continue to take control of these cases."
Redfield added that the US is beginning to "turn the tide of what I am calling the southern outbreak in the nation". He said Arizona, Texas and other states, which were particularly hard hit by the virus in the summer, had adopted public health guidelines to encourage facial coverage and close indoor bars and restaurants.
However, he added that the daily new cases are still high and he wants to bring that number below 10,000 new cases per day. He said he would like to get to a point where the percentage of all tests that are positive every day across the country is below 3%. About 6% of all tests are currently positive, based on a seven-day average, Deputy Health Secretary Brett Giroir told reporters earlier this week.
Although some states are making progress to get the virus under control, Redfield reports that others are still reporting worrying numbers, particularly in "Central America" like Nebraska and Oklahoma.
"We're starting to see that some of the cases fall in the areas of the red zone, but if you look at the conditions that are in what is called the yellow zone, between 5% and 10%, they don't fall. So Central America is stuck right now firmly, "he said. "That is why it is so important for Central America to recognize the mitigation steps we have talked about, about masks, about social distancing, hand washing, closing bars and about crowds."
He said cases are not increasing significantly in the region, but the fact that cases appear to be plateauing could be a cause for concern, especially as the country enters the colder months of the year and seasonal influenza spreads. Redfield has repeatedly warned that the coexistence of a major flu outbreak coupled with the Covid-19 pandemic could overwhelm hospitals and cause preventable deaths. He encouraged Americans to get this year's flu vaccine as soon as it becomes available to reduce the risk of an overwhelming flu season.
"We don't need a third wave in the heartland now," he said. "We have to prevent that especially when we come in autumn."