Former CDC director says 20,000 more COVID-19 deaths by end of October is ‘inevitable’

The former director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warned that another 20,000 COVID-19 deaths in the United States by the end of the October is “inevitable.” 

Dr. Tom Frieden gave a grim prediction on the ongoing pandemic as the U.S. reported 57,420 new coronavirus cases Friday, the highest number of new daily cases reported since August, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. 

On Monday, the former health agency director tweeted, “It's inevitable that we'll see 20,000 more Covid deaths in the next month in the US based on the number of people currently infected.”

“Every new infection is a step backward,” he wrote. 

Frieden was CDC director from 2009-2017, according to the agency. He led the U.S. response to the 2008 H1N1 influenza pandemic under the Obama administration.

The CDC’s ensemble forecast predicts that anywhere from 2,800 to 6,800 new COVID-19 deaths will be reported during the week ending Oct. 31, 2020. 

“The national ensemble predicts that a total of 224,000 to 233,000 COVID-19 deaths will be reported by this date,” according to the health agency. 

The United States had reported more than 214,000 deaths and over 7.7 million confirmed cases attributed to the novel coronavirus as of Oct. 12. 

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Frieden’s warning comes amid new highs in COVID-19 cases around the globe as a second wave of the virus hits countries in Europe ahead of flu season. 

Spain this week declared a state of emergency for Madrid amid increasing tensions between local and national authorities over virus containment measures. Germany offered up soldiers to help with contact tracing in newly flaring hotspots. Italy mandated masks outdoors and warned that for the first time since the country became the European epicenter of the pandemic, the health system was facing “significant critical issues” as hospitals fill up.

The Czech Republic’s “Farewell Covid” party in June, when thousands of Prague residents dined outdoors at a 500-meter (yard) long table across the Charles Bridge to celebrate their victory over the virus, seems painfully naive now that the country has the highest per-capita infection rate on the continent, at 398 per 100,000 residents.

In South America, Brazil’s count of COVID-19 deaths surpassed 150,000, despite signs the pandemic is slowly retreating in Latin America’s largest nation.

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The Brazilian Health Ministry reported Saturday night that the death toll now stands at 150,198. The figure is the world’s second-highest behind the United States, according to the tally maintained by Johns Hopkins University.

And in the United States, President Donald Trump, who has repeatedly downplayed the threat of the disease, was returning to the campaign trail, weeks after contracting the illness. 

The White House doctor Saturday night said Trump was no longer at risk of transmitting the coronavirus, but did not say explicitly whether Trump had tested negative for it.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.