CDC notes “distressing trend” of rising COVID-19 cases

Oct. 22, 2020

In their first press briefing in more than two months, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) officials warned that the country is approaching a "critical phase" in the COVID-19 pandemic, while also expressing optimism that one or more vaccines will be available for distribution before the end of the year, according to a news report from the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy (CIDRAP) at the University of Minnesota.

"Unfortunately, we're seeing a distressing trend here with COVID-19 in the United States, with COVID-19 cases increasing in nearly 75 percent of the country," CDC Deputy Director Jay Butler, MD, told reporters in Atlanta. "Recently, we've seen nearly 60,000 cases a day on average, as well as 700 deaths."

Butler attributed the nationwide increase in cases to more people moving indoors as the weather gets colder, as well as smaller, intimate gatherings of families and neighbors that are taking place indoors. Butler emphasized four general rules that translate into higher risk of COVID-19 spread—the more closely people interact with others, the longer the interaction lasts, interactions taking place indoors, and interactions involving a lot of people.

"Understanding these risks, and how to adapt different prevention measures, can help you protect yourselves and your families and your communities," he said. Butler added the agency is "cautiously optimistic that vaccines will be available, in limited quantities, before the end of 2020,” and said that all states have submitted their initial plans to the CDC on how to safely distribute and administer vaccines once they're available.

Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Alex Azar said that if and when the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approves a vaccine, the government will have supplies manufactured and ready for distribution. He laid out a potential timeline in which there could be enough of an approved vaccine to immunize the most vulnerable by the end of the year, and seniors, healthcare workers, and first responders by the end of January.

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