In just a year, Covid-19 has killed almost 400,000 Americans. And in the only subsequent month, another 100,000 lives might be lost to the disease, the incoming director of the US Centers For Disease Control and Prevention said.
"By the center of February, we expect half-million deaths during this country," Dr. Rochelle Walensky told CBS' "Face the state " on Sunday.
"That doesn't speak to the tens of thousands of individuals who live with a yet uncharacterized syndrome after they've recovered," said Walensky, who was chief of infectious diseases at Massachusetts General Hospital before President-elect Joe Biden picked her to steer the CDC.
Some people that have had Covid-19 have suffered symptoms months after testing positive.
"And we still haven't yet seen the ramifications of what happened from the vacation travel, from holiday gatherings, in terms of high rates of hospitalizations and therefore the deaths thereafter," Walensky said.
"I think we still have some dark weeks ahead."
What to expect this next month
The CDC published a composite forecast last week projecting between 440,000 to 477,000 Covid-19 deaths within the US by February 6.
While some states are beginning to see improved outlooks in their fights against Covid-19, others are struggling badly.
At least 126,139 patients were hospitalized across the US on Saturday -- but the record-high of 132,447 patients on Epiphany.
North Dakota, which has been under a mask mandate, saw its number of active Covid-19 cases drop 80% since a mid-November outbreak, Gov. Doug Burgum said Friday.
That mask mandate will expire Monday.
"Our case numbers and hospital capacity have improved dramatically in North Dakota over the past two months, and with three new tools we did not have last fall -- vaccines, rapid tests, and effective therapeutics -- we will see the sunshine at the top of the tunnel," Burgum said.
At least 126,139 patients were hospitalized.
"However, this fight isn't over, and that we need all North Dakotans to still exercise personal responsibility, follow protocols and keep wearing masks where physical distancing isn't possible. The day will come once we can begin our masks and discard them confidently, but as long as we do what's needed now to stay ourselves, our families, and our communities safe."
In Illinois, three regions of the state are getting into less-restrictive lockdown measures.
"I'm happy to report today that the bulk of Illinois regions are making good progress," Gov. J.B. Pritzker said Friday.
The state will soon see the return of group fitness classes, "lower-risk youth and recreational sports" and therefore the reopening of museums, the governor said.
But much of the country remains in trouble. As of Sunday, 46 states had test positivity rates above 5%, consistent with Johns Hopkins University.