"It's more transmissible, spreading to more vulnerable populations, even casual interactions with people are much more likely to lead to infections," Dr. Sanjay Gupta said.
January 19, 2021

Alysin Camerota talked about Joe Biden and Kamala Harris's plans to honor the nearly 400,000 Americans that have died from coronavirus today at the Lincoln Memorial reflecting pool.

"More than 53,000 deaths just this month alone. Joining us now, chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta. It's so remarkable to have a leader acknowledge the huge devastation this country has felt in terms of the number of deaths," she said.

"No question about it. I was doing some -- talking to some folks over the weekend. This idea that, throughout this pandemic, there really hasn't been what they have referred to as 'the center of grief.' So much of the grieving that's taken place has taken place behind closed doors, behind closed home doors, funeral home doors, hospital doors, whatever it may be," Gupta said.

"We don't see it. We don't feel it. And that makes a big difference sometimes in terms of how we respond to it. There's many people who still think that this is -- we're looking at this in the rear-view mirror. And obviously, we're not. These numbers are as bad as they've ever been and so much news going on in the world because we don't have that center of grief. Maybe we don't pay as close attention to it.

"This reminds people. It's tough news to hear. I'm not sure what the president-elect will be saying today, but it's really important and a stark reminder of what we still need to do over the next several weeks and months."

"399,008 deaths. We'll cross the 400,000 mark today. The final full day of Donald Trump's presidency," John Berman said.

"Some people look at that and say that is in some ways an appropriate milestone, given how this administration has handled it. In terms of what the next administration will have to handle, Sanjay, we heard from Professor Michael Osterholm. we had a graphic which talks about how much more contagious some of these variants will be, and others are describing a race now between getting the vaccines in people's arms and these variants which are going to spread more quickly."

Gupta explained what difference those virus variants will make.

"If it were just 50% more deadly, what would that mean after a month? You'd have roughly 1.5 times more deaths. but the contagiousness is a real concern, okay? If you look at this after six generations, we typically say a generation is five days. Six generations would be a month. 50% more contagious could potentially lead to 11 1/2 times more deaths. Why? Because it's more transmissible, spreading to more vulnerable populations, even very sort of casual interactions with people are much more likely to lead to infections. So you get a significant problem.

"As Michael Osterholm was talking about, we have about 30% of the country right now that's probably been exposed to this. We don't even know because testing is still a problem in this country. But say if it's 30%, that means the vast majority of people who, again, may be looking at this in the rearview mirror, are still at risk. And that's why you have to really focus on these mitigation measures.

The same basic things we've been talking about, the mask wearing, the distancing, all that sort of stuff. What Osterholm was also saying without coming right out and saying it is, look what they had to do in the UK. Look what they've had to do in Ireland."

He said nobody really wants to talk about it, but targeted shutdowns may be necessary to break the back of the virus transmission.

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