The director for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Robert R. Redfield, addressed concerns related to the spread of COVID-19 on Thursday's 7 UpFront segment. He discussed holiday safety suggestions amid the pandemic, the ongoing surge of cases across the nation and any possible progress with a vaccine.
"This is a very serious threat. I don't think it's unlikely in the next week or two that we won't be having a million cases a week in this country," Redfield said during his Zoom interview.
On Wednesday, the nation reached another record with 144,000 positive cases reported, according to Johns Hopkins University, with that number steadily climbing and drawing concerns as we head into the holiday season.
The CDC recently released updated guidelines in response to the upcoming holidays. These include the original guidelines that encourage wearing face masks or coverings, washing hands and social distancing. They've included opting for potluck-style meals while bringing your own utensils, or planning to hold holiday events outdoors.
"I think it's very important as CDC puts out guidelines, we base it on data and science," Redfield said. "And with these new guidelines on masks, first it's very important for everyone to realize that masks work. They really do prevent the transmission."
He said earlier data showed that masks could control the source. So for those who were infected, even if you're asymptomatic, masks made a difference in protecting others around you.
Redfield touched on the surge happening across the country, with Michigan reporting on Thursday a new single-day record of positive cases totaling 6,940.
"In order for (masks) to be effective in containing this outbreak, as we see the surge across the country now we need not just 50% of people to embrace masks, not 75% of people," Redfield said. "The truth is, this virus is more infectious than flu and for masks to work in terms of stopping community spread we really do need north of 95% of people to embrace masks, social distancing, washing their hands, being smart about crowds."
"It's really important not to underestimate this virus. The threat is really real."
Redfield said addressing a specific group driving the spread of COVID is essential. That group would be asymptomatic carriers. He described it as "the silent epidemic."
Strategic testing within that group is needed, specifically for those ages 15 to 30, to begin to identify asymptomatic individuals to get a hold on the spread.
"It's really important not to underestimate this virus. The threat is really real," Redfield said.
Watch Redfield's full 7 UpFront interview in the player above.