By WILLIAM MANSELL, ABC News
(NEW YORK) — A novel coronavirus pandemic has now killed more than 794,000 people worldwide.
Over 22.6 million people across the globe have been diagnosed with COVID-19, the disease caused by the new respiratory virus, according to data compiled by the Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins University. The actual numbers are believed to be much higher due to testing shortages, many unreported cases and suspicions that some national governments are hiding or downplaying the scope of their outbreaks.
The United States is the worst-affected country in the world, with more than 5.5 million diagnosed cases and at least 174,283 deaths.
Here’s how the news is developing Friday. All times Eastern:
6:07 a.m.: CDC director warns flu season could overwhelm hospitals
As the United States gets closer to flu season, the combination with the COVID-19 pandemic could be disastrous for hospitals across the country, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Dr. Robert Redfield.
He offered the grim outlook Thursday during a JAMA livestream, saying hospitals could be overrun like they were in New York City early on in the pandemic.
“The biggest fear I have of course by COVID and flu at the same time, is that our hospital capacity could get strained,” he said Thursday.
“And we need to stay vigilant to the mitigation steps right now, because, come the fall, if we have flu causing its problems and we have COVID causing its problems, and they build on each other, we could end up with another loss of significant life,” Redfield said.
Though he offered the grim warning, he did stress that the flu vaccine could mitigate those problems. Redfield said that the CDC has purchased 9.3 million additional doses of the flu vaccine, and has a goal of “65% vaccine acceptance across the board.”
The CDC estimates that during the 2019-2020 flu season (from Oct. 1, 2019, to April 4) that there were between 24,000-62,000 deaths. So far, COVID-19 has killed more than 174,000 people in the U.S. in less than six months.
“This fall and winter could be one of the most complicated public health times we have with the two coming at the same time,” he said during the JAMA live stream. “On the other hand, I’m an optimist that if the American public heeds the advice that we said about the face covering and the social distancing and the handwashing and being smart about crowds, this could be one of the best flu seasons we had, and particularly if they do one more thing. And that is to embrace the flu vaccine with confidence.”
Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.