The coronavirus tracker from Johns Hopkins University — a widely used metric — indicated on Friday that one million people across the globe have now died from the virus. The exact number, according to Johns Hopkins, is 1,000,555.
The United States is far and away the country that has recorded the most fatalities from COVID-19. The country recently lost its 200,000th coronavirus patient. That means it accounts for 20% of all deaths worldwide, even though it contains only 4% of the globe’s population.
Brazil is second with 142,000 virus deaths, and India a distant third with 92,000 lives lost.
Last month, Centers for Disease Control Director Robert Redfield put America’s COVID battle in perspective saying, “This is the greatest public health crisis in a century.”
In fact, Redfield saw the coming flu season in Dickensian terms.
“It’s dependent on how the American people choose to respond. It’s really the worst of times or the best of times, depending on the American public,” he said, paraphrasing the opening of Charles Dickens’s classic A Tale of Two Cities.
Indeed, as the first flu cases are beginning to arise, COVID-19 is resurgent in Europe and in New York, two former epicenters of the disease. In California, the rate of spread, or R, is creeping up. In some areas of the state it is now above one, which means for every one person infected, more than one other person gets the virus. That can create “exponential” spread, according to California’s Health and Human Services Director, Dr. Mark Ghaly.
That does not bode well for flu season which, while expected to be mild, has experts fearing a “twindemic.” In that case, patients hospitalized with the flu coupled with those in hospitals with coronavirus could overburden the medical system, as it did in the early days of the pandemic in New York.
Dr. Anthony Fauci said at CNN’s Citizens conference last Tuesday, “We’re getting into a weather season where people will be spending more time indoors and depending upon your own social situation, indoors for you or another person may mean poor ventilation, poor airflow and difficulty getting the kind of removal of anything that would lead to spread.
“The fact is, we know we could get into serious trouble if we don’t do certain things,” Fauci warned. “And I hope that that understanding is not going to frighten people but will jolt them into realizing that it is within our hands to prevent that.”
Indeed, while the death toll has been severe of the past 10 months, the year is not over yet. In the 1918 flu pandemic, another 195,000 people died in the month of October as flu season hit. The six weeks between mid-November and December 31 that year accounted for fully one-third of all deaths from the virus. This is why experts are warning of even a mild flu season.
They have other concerns, as well.
According to NBC, Redfield suggested during a phone call overheard by NBC News on a commercial airline on Friday that Donald Trump’s newest advisor, Dr. Scott Atlas, is feeding Trump misleading data. Redfield said Atlas questioned the efficacy of masks, whether young people are susceptible to the virus and the potential benefits of herd immunity. Atlas, it should be noted, is a radiologist not an infectious disease expert.
“Everything he says is false,” Redfield said about Atlas on the call.