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University of Minnesota epidemiologist stresses patience: 'Things are going to get worse, not better'

"I worry that people are taking this situation now as if we're just about over the hump,"ays Dr. Michael Osterholm, Director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota.

Posted: May 7, 2020 6:39 PM
Updated: May 7, 2020 8:05 PM

KIMT NEWS 3 - The U.S. has been navigating the Coronavirus pandemic for about three months now. You may feel like we've been through a lot already, but we still have a long ways to go, according to one of the top epidemiologists in the country.

"Things are going to get worse, not better," says Dr. Michael Osterholm, Director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota. "I worry that people are taking this situation now as if we're just about over the hump, we're just about done, we'll get over this curb, we'll get to summer, everything will quiet down. We hear that from national leaders that that's what going to happen, but we're just in the second inning of a nine inning game."

A vaccine or achieving herd immunity could restore some normalcy, but neither are likely to be reached any time soon. About 5-15% of Americans have been infected with Coronavirus. 60-70% infection is needed to obtain herd immunity.

"If I could create a magic wand, my first swoop across the sky would be a miracle vaccine. My second swoop across the sky would be someone like Franklin Delano Roosevelt holding fireside chats for all of us, helping us understand where we're at, the challenges we have, and where we're going, and how we're going to get there," says Osterholm.

Whenever we receive a vaccine or herd immunity, Dr. Osterholm stresses our post-pandemic lives will not be the same. "We will never go back to what was once normal. We will have a new normal. What we're not sure yet of at this point is what that means, meaning that how we get through the next 12 to 18 months or more of this virus transmitting in our communities with the hope of a vaccine somewhere having an impact on that, is yet to be determined. We don't know."

Dr. Osterholm acknowleges the strain put on the country financially and emotionally by the pandemic. "We must hang together on this. We will get through it. I understand this has been an incredible hardship on families who have suffered loss of loved ones, who have had the pain of watching loved ones in intensive care units that they could not be with. I also understand the pain of the economic implications. I have a dear friend who is about to lose his business."

He says there is strong data showing staying at home is working to flatten the curve, but there's no way to know for sure yet how states reopening businesses and public spaces will impact thes pread. There's a fine balance of protecting our health and protecting the economy. "What we're trying to do is weave a middle ground. How do we, as I say, thread the rope through the needle," he explains. "We have to come together and work on both of these issues. it's not one or the other and I worry that we're starting to place it in that kind of context, as one or the other and that's not the case."

As we walk the fine line of keeping the economy afloat while also preventing deaths, Osterholm stresses the critical need to prevent overwhelming the healthcare system. "We can't just let this virus go willy-nilly in our communities or we will bring down our healthcare systems. We will see not just that this is the number one cause of death, but that we will accentuate many other causes of death because people couldn't get healthcare. They couldn't be treated for their heart attack, they couldn't be treated for their stroke because the healthcare systems were so severely handicapped by all these cases," he says.

Despite not beating around the bush at the fact the U.S. has a long way to go until we are on the other side of this, Dr. Osterholm maintains his position that we will get through this.

"Unfortunately, we keep getting diverted by what I consider political sideshows which are unfortunate and not unexpected but nevertheless, they dominate far too much of our time," Dr. Osterholm tells KIMT. "We need to have really intense community discussions about how do we respond to this in the most meaningful way to reduce illnesses, to cause the least disruption to society, and to get us through to the end of this thing. We will get through, but how do we get through?" The "how" behind the United State's perseverance through the COVID-19 pandemic is what will make the difference. "What will define us as a human race will be less about dealing with the virus, but how we deal with each other."

Minnesota Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 37624

Reported Deaths: 1503
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hennepin12150785
Ramsey4805226
Stearns234519
Dakota228690
Anoka2180107
Nobles16626
Olmsted110115
Washington106940
Mower9452
Rice8357
Scott7004
Clay58538
Kandiyohi5701
Wright4565
Blue Earth4532
Todd4002
Carver3641
Lyon3092
Sherburne3075
Freeborn2900
Steele2281
Watonwan2160
Benton2143
St. Louis17715
Martin1635
Nicollet15912
Cottonwood1340
Goodhue1298
Winona12215
Crow Wing10612
Pine1030
Le Sueur981
Chisago971
Otter Tail931
McLeod880
Carlton850
Dodge840
Polk812
Chippewa781
Unassigned7637
Isanti720
Itasca6412
Waseca640
Douglas620
Meeker611
Morrison591
Murray580
Becker550
Faribault550
Jackson550
Sibley542
Pennington500
Pipestone371
Mille Lacs342
Renville322
Wabasha310
Brown302
Rock300
Yellow Medicine300
Beltrami290
Fillmore280
Houston250
Swift211
Norman200
Wilkin203
Redwood180
Cass152
Wadena150
Aitkin140
Big Stone140
Kanabec141
Koochiching141
Roseau130
Marshall120
Grant100
Lincoln100
Pope100
Mahnomen81
Clearwater70
Hubbard60
Lake60
Traverse50
Lac qui Parle40
Stevens40
Red Lake30
Kittson20
Cook10
Lake of the Woods00

Iowa Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 30975

Reported Deaths: 720
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Polk6464179
Woodbury321544
Black Hawk225258
Buena Vista171111
Johnson12648
Dallas126329
Linn126282
Marshall104319
Scott77810
Story7623
Pottawattamie72111
Wapello70630
Dubuque68322
Crawford6772
Muscatine62944
Sioux4630
Tama46229
Wright3801
Louisa36013
Jasper32317
Plymouth3165
Warren2731
Dickinson2642
Washington2369
Webster2132
Hamilton1871
Cerro Gordo1561
Boone1481
Clay1330
Clarke1312
Allamakee1284
Mahaska11517
Shelby1140
Clinton1071
Poweshiek1048
Carroll961
Pocahontas941
Bremer926
Franklin890
Des Moines882
Henry863
Emmet850
Cedar821
Taylor790
Monona760
Cherokee751
Floyd722
Hardin700
Marion700
Guthrie664
Benton651
Sac630
Jefferson590
Osceola590
Jones560
Humboldt541
Butler532
Harrison530
Lee532
Hancock510
Iowa510
Buchanan501
Monroe506
Calhoun492
Delaware491
Fayette480
Madison452
Clayton433
Lyon410
Palo Alto410
Davis391
Winneshiek380
Grundy370
Mitchell370
Mills360
Howard350
Kossuth340
Lucas304
Greene290
Jackson290
Chickasaw280
Winnebago280
Union270
Ida230
Cass220
Appanoose203
Keokuk201
Page200
Van Buren200
Worth190
Audubon161
Unassigned160
Adair150
Ringgold150
Decatur110
Montgomery102
Wayne100
Adams80
Fremont70
Rochester
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