According to Dr. Tom Frieden, a former director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, another 20,000 deaths due to the COVID-19 pandemic by the end of the month are “inevitable”.
During CNN’s “Coronavirus: Facts and Fears” town hall on Saturday, he said that the estimate is based on the number of infections “that have already occurred”.
On Friday, the U.S. reported 57,420 fresh COVID-19 cases, the highest number of new daily cases since August.
“Anytime we ignore, minimize or underestimate this virus, we do so at our peril and the peril of people whose lives depend on us,” Frieden said.
According to data from Johns Hopkins University, more than 7.7 million people have been infected with this deadly virus in the U.S., while 214,377 have died.
Officials are tracking infections and deaths due to coronavirus, but according to Frieden, those numbers may be too small.
The true number of COVID-19 deaths in the U.S. is well over a quarter million, Frieden told Saturday.
Part of the problem in determining the true picture is how deaths are listed on death certificates, especially for older patients who are suffering from other health issues along with COVID-19 infections. Often the other health issues are highlighted as the root cause of death, he said.
“If you die from cancer, and you also have diabetes, you still died from cancer,” Frieden explained. “If you died from Covid, and you also had diabetes, you died from Covid.”
He said that the number of COVID-19 infections is likely closer to 40 million people.
“You may not get sick at all from this, but you may spread it to someone who then dies, or spreads it to someone else who dies,” he said. “That’s why we all have to recognize that we’re in this together. There’s only one enemy, and that’s the virus.”