Rochelle Walensky: Incoming CDC director expects 500K COVID deaths by mid-February

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Rochelle Walensky: Incoming CDC director expects 500K COVID deaths by mid-February
Rochelle Walensky: Incoming CDC director expects 500K COVID deaths by mid-February

The incoming Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) director said Sunday that she expects the U.S. will reach 500,000 COVID-19 deaths by mid-February.

Rochelle Walensky, President-elect Joe Biden’s named CDC director, told CBS News’ “Face The Nation” that she “unfortunately” agrees with outgoing CDC Director Robert Redfield that the pandemic is going to get worse.

She noted the U.S. has reached nearly 4,000 deaths a day and almost 400,000 coronavirus deaths total.

“By the middle of February we expect half a million deaths in this country,” she said.

Walensky emphasized that those numbers do not account for the “tens of thousands” of people who recovered from COVID-19 but have an “uncharacterized syndrome.” She also said the U.S. has not yet seen “the ramifications of what happened from the holiday travel,” which the incoming director said will lead to “high rates of hospitalizations and deaths thereafter.”

“I think we still have some dark weeks ahead,” she said.

The U.S. has counted more than 23.8 million COVID-19 cases and 397,252 fatalities, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.

The death rate has reached new heights throughout the cooler months, and between Jan. 12 and 16, the U.S. has recorded at least 3,6000 deaths per day, according to The COVID Tracking Project.

President Trump’s administration has faced criticism for its handling of the pandemic, including how often it briefs the public.

After “Face The Nation” moderator Margaret Brennan asked Walensky how often she will hold briefings, the incoming director said she will “brief as often as I can” and “as often as new information comes.”

“When there are new things to report, you will hear from somebody at the CDC and it may very well be me,” she said.

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