Dr. Osterholm: "We are going to find that the transmission will come roaring back"


Minnesota’s laboratory-confirmed coronavirus cases continue to rise, though not as dramatically as some states in the southern US. That’s good, for now, according to Dr. Michael Osterholm, University of Minnesota infectious diseases director.

“We’ve been able to get the virus down to a certain point,” Osterholm told Jearlyn Steele on the WCCO Morning News. “But, that won’t sustain itself. You’re as good as today.”

That means following social distancing guidelines must be followed.

“If we let up, and we continue to do certain kinds of activities where we’re all close together in social settings, we’re not distancing, at that point, we are going to find that the transmission will come roaring back here just like it has in other locations,” he said.

Osterholm said we are in a very critical moment in the pandemic, which medical experts say won’t end until a safe vaccine is distributed.

“This virus is going to continue to transmit,” he said. “It’s just going to keep infecting people in large numbers.”

Osterholm has maintained that the spread of the virus won’t slow down until it reaches between 50 and 70 percent of the US population.

He said about seven percent of the population is infected.

“Every day that we don’t control this virus more efficiently and more completely, it’s just more days where people are going to get infected and die,” Osterholm said. “For all the pain and suffering and death and economic disruption that has happened, we’re just still getting started with this pandemic.”

He points out other countries in the world have successfully staged concerted efforts to control COVID-19.

“What we’re talking about is hard work,” Osterholm said. “It’s not like it’s impossible to do.”