NEWS
23/06/2020 10:25 AM AEST | Updated 23/06/2020 10:48 AM AEST

Covid-19 Will Rage 'Like A Forest Fire' In Unprepared America, Top Doc Warns

“I don’t think that this is going to slow down. Wherever there is wood to burn, this fire is going to burn,” Dr Michael Osterholm said.

Covid-19 will rage “like a forest fire” in a US that has no clear plan to deal with it and has regressed to a dismissive, “pre-pandemic” attitude, a top infectious disease expert said Sunday.

America’s leadership is unfocused, Dr Michael Osterholm told Chuck Todd on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” unlike other parts of the world that remain vigilant against the pandemic.

The spread of Covid-19 is “like a forest fire,” warned Osterholm, the director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota.

“I don’t think that this is going to slow down. I think that wherever there is wood to burn, this fire is going to burn. And right now we have a lot of susceptible people,” he said.

“I don’t see this slowing down through the summer or into the fall. I don’t think we’re going to see one, two and three waves. I think we’re going to just see one very, very difficult forest fire of cases.”

Other nations have “done a much better job” of stopping the spread of Covid-19, said Osterholm.

“We haven’t done that. ... We just have not really gotten the message across to the public yet that this is a very serious issue. We can’t shut down our economy, but we just can’t suddenly say we’re done with” Covid-19, he added. 

A number of states are now dealing with record daily increases of Covid-19 cases because “everybody’s back to a pre-pandemic mindset,” Osterholm pointed out.

He noted the US lacks a national plan that “really puts together what we’re trying to do” — leaving states to impose a patchwork of different responses. 

“To hear the fact that we don’t want to do testing is wrong. Absolutely, we should be testing as much as possible,” Osterholm said. “Once we do have these positive tests, what are we doing to make sure that additional transmission isn’t occurring? How do we do contact tracing?”

Donald Trump said at his campaign rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma, on Saturday that he told his “people” to reduce testing in order to suppress reports of increased cases.

“When you do testing to that extent, you’re going to find ... more cases,” Trump explained. “So I said to my people, ’Slow the testing down, please.’”