Dr. Robert Redfield, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), has sounded the alarm about the increasing number of coronavirus deaths in the U.S.

With approximately 292,000 reported deaths in 2020, Redfield said this week that the nation is on course to reach about 450,000 deaths by February.

“These next few months might be the most difficult time in the public health history of this nation,” Redfield stated.

Despite the grim outlook, the CDC  announced it had reduced the recommended minimum quarantine time for those exposed to the virus from 14 days to as few as seven. According to the most recent “Options to reduce quarantine” data posted on the CDC website, local public health authorities will make final decisions about how long quarantine should last based upon local conditions and needs.

The latest guidelines call for a quarantine of seven days for those without symptoms and a negative test, or 10 days without a negative test.

“Shortening the length of quarantine may make it easier for people to take this critical action by reducing the economic hardship associated with a longer period, especially if they cannot work during that time,” said Dr. Henry Walke, the CDC’s COVID-19 incident manager.

Of greatest concern is that the virus is worse than at any previous time, health officials said.

Many are refraining from large gatherings but others are not, despite the fact that several states and municipalities have enacted local laws and ordinances prohibiting such get-togethers.

Hip-hop superstar Cardi B issued an apology for a 14-person gathering she hosted during Thanksgiving.

Police in New York broke up a 400-person party after an Airbnb owner discovered the festivities while watching his security cameras from a separate location.

Incidents of large gatherings — with many of the participants shunning face masks — have been reported in California, Florida, Georgia, New York, Texas and other places, rankling public health officials nationwide.

New hospitalizations in the U.S. reached more than 100,000, and scientific evidence from the CDC, Johns Hopkins University and other sources shows that African Americans are still the group affected the most by the virus.

Medical experts hope that, after front-line workers receive a vaccine from Pfizer, which is expected as early as Dec. 15, the African American community will embrace vaccination.

“People like Dr. Anthony Fauci, who I know, and I’ve worked with, I trust completely,” former President Barack Obama said in an interview with Sirius XM’s Joe Madison. “So if Anthony Fauci tells me this vaccine is safe and can vaccinate, you know, immunize you from getting [COVID-19], absolutely, I’m going to take it. I promise you that when it’s been made for people who are less at risk, I will be taking it.

“I may end up taking it on TV or having it filmed, just so that people know that I trust this science, and what I don’t trust is getting [COVID-19],” Obama said.

Dr. Ebony Hilton, medical director of GoodStock Consulting LLC and associate professor in anesthesiology and critical care medicine at the University of Virginia, added that she understands the mistrust of the medical system that exists in the Black community.

However, Hilton believes African Americans shouldn’t hesitate to accept an approved coronavirus vaccine.

“There have been historic insults made by the government to the Black community, and the scars of that breach linger,” said Hilton, a member of the National Newspaper Publishers Association’s Coronavirus Task Force. “But that’s why it’s up to the medical system to restore that trust.

“Initiatives to place Black physicians on the main stage to engage in conversations with our community are imperative because time is of the essence for this message to be heard and understood,” Hilton said. “What we know is that for every 870 Black people alive in January, one has now died from [COVID-19]. Black people die at three times the rate of white people and a decade younger.

“We cannot afford to not take any measure that will keep us alive, and at this time, the vaccine is our most valuable resource,” Hilton said. “We need this intervention to help shield our community, through herd immunity, and increase our likelihood of surviving together to see our future generations thrive.”

WI Guest Author

This correspondent is a guest contributor to The Washington Informer.

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