Osterholm said Americans were not being realistic in the face of this new spike, which he said was being driven by a Covid variant.
“We are the only country in the world right now experiencing this increasing number of cases due to this variant and at the same time, opening up, not closing down,” he told host Chris Wallace. “The two basically are going to collide, and we are going to see substantially increased number of cases.”
He said he realized his message was not what people wanted to hear right now.
“I understand the absolute resistance in this country even to consider that and you know — it’s kind of like trying to drink barbed wire — but the bottom line message of the virus is it’s going to do what it’s going to do, and we are going to have to respond somehow,” Osterholm said, adding it might involve pulling “back on some of the restrictions that we’ve loosened up on.”
The largest recent spike in cases has been in the Upper Midwest. “If I think anyone in Michigan had thought they would see 8,400 new cases on Saturday like they did, no one would have believed that a month ago,” Osterholm said.
Osterholm noted that the new variant has hit children harder than previous strains of the virus. “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,” he said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”
The United States has had more than 30 million Covid cases and more than 554,000 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University.
Osterholm added: “Nobody wants to be the person to die three days before they were supposed to get their Covid shot.”