If seasonal flu resumes this fall and the COVID-19 pandemic continues to spread, the cumulative weight of the diseases could lead to the collapse of US health systems, warned the head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Dr. Robert Redfield. This statement was made live with Howard Bauchner, editor-in-chief of JAMA Medical Journal.

A grim warning came at a time when COVID-19 was getting out of control in many parts of the country. There are now over 60,000 new cases of coronavirus infection per day in the United States.

I worry. I think that the fall and winter of 2020 and 2021 will probably be one of the most difficult times we have had in public health in the United States.

Dr. Robert Redfield, Head of the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

Outbreaks of seasonal flu can stress health system resources during normal times. But in addition to the devastating pandemic, which has no end in sight, the annual surge in respiratory infections can overwhelm hospitals and clinics, becoming the last straw. In this case, COVID-19 may get out of control.

According to CDC estimates, up to 56 million people were ill during the 2019-2020 flu season, from October to April, which led to 740,000 hospitalizations and up to 62,000 deaths.

If hospitals and clinics are overloaded with patients with influenza and COVID-19, healthcare providers will not be able to provide optimal care. This will lead to an increase in mortality among these patients, as well as patients seeking medical care for all other types of diseases and conditions.

In an interview, Redfield emphasized that the excessive mortality already observed during the COVID-19 pandemic, especially in New York, points to overloaded health systems.

To prevent excessive pressure on the health care system, I think this is really important. The degree to which we can do this will determine how well we survive the fall and winter.

Dr. Robert Redfield, Head of the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

Redfield called on Americans to maintain social distance and wear masks in public. He also pointed to recent evidence that masks are effective in preventing the spread of COVID-19.

Since the pandemic began in January, more than 3.4 million cases of COVID-19 and more than 136,000 deaths have been reported in the United States.