Top Physician Says U.S. Health Care System at 'Point of Potential Collapse'

Medical analyst Dr. Leana Wen warned on Friday that the U.S. health care system is facing collapse, as COVID-19 hospitalizations went past 90,000.

Wen, a former president of Planned Parenthood and visiting professor at the Milken Institute School of Public Health at George Washington University, told CNN's Jim Acosta that the people needed to work to flatten the curve.

"We're facing explosive spread in this country, Jim," Wen said. "We are on track to potentially reach 20 million coronavirus cases by end of January. And I am so worried about everything that is happening over Thanksgiving because we have a massive surge on top of another massive surge."

"So I would just urge everyone who is still with their loved ones now try to do your best to not gather indoors.

"Really just know much our health care system is under strain right now. We are at a point of potential collapse of our health care system.

"Each of us needs to do our part and stay away from these very high-risk settings like indoor settings where people are gathered together," she said.

Our healthcare system is on the brink of being overrun, with over 90,000 hospitalizations right now of #covid19. This will become even worse after Thanksgiving. Please help to flatten the curve by all of us reducing our risk—including quarantining after holiday gatherings. pic.twitter.com/BlXfZhCnov

— Leana Wen, M.D. (@DrLeanaWen) November 27, 2020

Wen went on to explain that there was a lag time involved in finding out how many people become infected over the Thanksgiving holiday, with a delay in those affected being diagnosed.

"People who are getting infected right now—we're probably going to be detecting these infections in about two weeks' time and then we're going to see the hospitalizations and ICU visits from that a week or two weeks after that," Wen said.

"My advice to everyone again: do your best not to gather right now. But if you have already traveled and are returning back to your home community, know that you are at high risk because not just the high risk of the actual travel, but because you gathered with other people and so quarantine for at least seven days and then get tested.

"If you don't have ready access to testing, quarantine for 14 days. Our health care system cannot withstand it and so we need to all do our part to flatten that curve," Wen said.

There have been almost 265,000 deaths from COVID-19 in the U.S. since the start of the pandemic and 13 million confirmed cases of the disease. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) advised people not to travel for Thanksgiving.

Dr. Leana Wen at Elijah Cummings' Funeral
Dr. Leana Wen speaks during the funeral services for late U.S. Representative Elijah Cummings (D-MD) at the New Psalmist Baptist Church October 25, 2019 in Baltimore, Maryland. Wen has warned that the U.S. health care system could face collapse. Lloyd Fox-Pool/Getty Images