On Friday, the White House coronavirus task force held its first public briefing in two months — but health experts expressed concern afterward, saying Vice President Mike Pence offered little guidance for the country.
“This is a sad moment,” epidemiologist Dr. Larry Brilliant told CNN. “In all the modeling we did, in all the projections, we never modeled a federal government that didn’t take charge, that didn’t have a strategy. It’s really disheartening.”
The US recorded more than 40,000 new cases on Friday alone, and infection rates are going up in more than 30 states, forcing several to dial back their reopening efforts — which Pence didn’t address in the briefing.
“This is the all-time high we’ve had since the beginning of the pandemic and we squandered five months,” Brilliant said.
“What I worry about now is the Fourth of July,” he added. “We had Memorial Day; three or four weeks after that we had a peak in cases. Two or three more weeks from now, we’ll have a peak in deaths.”
Michael Osterholm, director of the Center of Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota, warned that the US was “still just in the very beginning of the pandemic.”
Only about 5-7% of the US population has been infected so far, he said, and herd immunity would require about 60-70% be infected. “So, when you think about all the pain, suffering, death, economic disruption we’ve had, think about how much more we have to go,” he added.