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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.

Cases: 912370

Reported Deaths: 9506
CountyCasesDeaths
Hennepin1780492023
Ramsey736781043
Dakota67355574
Anoka63852570
Washington40349356
Stearns33475276
St. Louis29443403
Scott25842181
Wright25830216
Olmsted22258128
Sherburne18919126
Carver1661066
Clay12033104
Blue Earth1144868
Rice11410138
Crow Wing11170122
Chisago992378
Kandiyohi9800106
Otter Tail9758127
Benton9018125
Beltrami816094
Goodhue805597
Douglas7849100
Itasca769597
Mower731249
McLeod710983
Winona708657
Isanti697883
Steele682731
Morrison671579
Becker627174
Polk599484
Freeborn559646
Carlton543474
Mille Lacs529474
Lyon527261
Nobles524754
Nicollet521160
Pine512642
Cass500553
Todd490743
Brown469757
Le Sueur457733
Meeker431457
Martin385843
Wabasha373610
Waseca372332
Dodge359811
Hubbard354749
Roseau315531
Fillmore304315
Wadena301740
Redwood281245
Houston270717
Renville268051
Faribault257032
Pennington251030
Sibley251017
Kanabec248136
Cottonwood229232
Aitkin221550
Chippewa219442
Pope206710
Watonwan197420
Yellow Medicine187723
Rock177428
Koochiching176023
Swift172622
Stevens167011
Jackson160816
Clearwater157520
Marshall153122
Murray151811
Pipestone149529
Lake132224
Lac qui Parle122125
Wilkin120616
Mahnomen105914
Norman10489
Grant101110
Big Stone9465
Lincoln8745
Kittson73023
Red Lake71310
Unassigned629124
Traverse6056
Lake of the Woods5255
Cook3070

Iowa Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 523052

Reported Deaths: 7289
CountyCasesDeaths
Polk80319799
Linn32142424
Scott26637292
Black Hawk21974378
Woodbury20490258
Johnson19778105
Dubuque18515241
Pottawattamie15890213
Dallas15320113
Story1380258
Warren8450104
Cerro Gordo7964123
Clinton7725114
Webster7326122
Des Moines7098105
Marshall669093
Unassigned66470
Muscatine6645117
Wapello6441144
Jasper619591
Sioux610177
Lee5908105
Marion557897
Buena Vista502149
Plymouth488388
Henry418655
Benton404859
Jones404862
Bremer395372
Washington391463
Boone389739
Carroll367755
Mahaska365365
Crawford353747
Dickinson314655
Jackson307747
Buchanan305741
Clay295536
Delaware294654
Kossuth289077
Fayette286353
Hardin284353
Tama279777
Page272533
Wright266149
Cedar265527
Hamilton259857
Winneshiek258143
Floyd255449
Clayton244459
Poweshiek237243
Madison234525
Harrison234379
Cass233466
Butler232744
Iowa229634
Jefferson223043
Mills220930
Winnebago215938
Hancock214639
Cherokee211347
Lyon206142
Appanoose205357
Allamakee203955
Calhoun196919
Shelby196442
Union191141
Humboldt185130
Grundy183637
Franklin183029
Mitchell182043
Chickasaw178922
Emmet178246
Louisa176953
Sac171026
Guthrie168137
Montgomery161745
Clarke160829
Keokuk150839
Palo Alto150532
Howard146824
Monroe142739
Ida130141
Greene127517
Davis124625
Lucas124426
Monona122939
Worth12139
Pocahontas120724
Adair114337
Osceola104818
Decatur101913
Taylor98514
Fremont95913
Van Buren93222
Wayne84525
Ringgold76729
Audubon74917
Adams5748
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