U.S. Entering 'Peak Death Week' in Coronavirus Pandemic

A member of the White House coronavirus task force has warned the U.S. is set to reach its "peak death week," with the number of people needing to be hospitalized or placed in intensive care to increase over the coming days.

"It's going to be the peak hospitalization, peak ICU week and unfortunately, peak death week," Adm. Brett Giroir told ABC's Good Morning America on Monday.

He made the comment after being asked about the U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams' remarks that the nation was about to face a difficult seven days.

"The next week is going to be our Pearl Harbor moment. It's going to be our 9/11 moment. It's going to be the hardest moment for many Americans in their entire lives," he said while appearing on NBC's Meet the Press.

Giroir said parts of the country, particularly New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and Detroit, are about to face the "peak week."

He also said this does not mean the COVID-19 outbreak will start to come to an end, with other parts of the country expected to face the peak at a later date.

"We have to be very, very serious about what's happening this week, the next week, the following weeks," Giroir said.

Giroir was also asked about the use of hydroxychloroquine in the treatment of COVID-19. This drug has had mixed results in small clinical trials. In Sweden, some hospitals also recently stopped using it on coronavirus patients because it resulted in severe side effects.

Giroir said the use of hydroxychloroquine, to him, was a matter of "risk benefit analysis." If a person's health had been impacted severely by the virus and they were about to be put on a ventilator, the risk/benefit would mean the drug should probably be used, he explained.

The U.S. is now the world's worst-affected country in terms of coronavirus cases and deaths. According to the Johns Hopkins University tracker, it has had almost 370,000 confirmed cases, with almost 11,000 deaths.

A forecast tool created to predict when each state would be most impacted by COVID-19 was recently developed by scientists at the University of Washington's Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME).

It's online tool suggests that nationwide, cases of COVID-19 would peak around April 15. At this point, it estimates there will be a shortage of 36,654 hospital beds and 16,323 intensive care unit beds. Cases in New York, the worst affected state, are expected to peak on April 8, the tracker suggests.

It estimates that by August 4, over 81,000 people will have died from the new coronavirus in the U.S. Researchers note that the levels of uncertainty on these figures are very high.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Advice on Using Face Coverings to Slow Spread of COVID-19

  • CDC recommends wearing a cloth face covering in public where social distancing measures are difficult to maintain.
  • A simple cloth face covering can help slow the spread of the virus by those infected and by those who do not exhibit symptoms.
  • Cloth face coverings can be fashioned from household items. Guides are offered by the CDC.
  • Cloth face coverings should be washed regularly. A washing machine will suffice.
  • Practice safe removal of face coverings by not touching eyes, nose, and mouth, and wash hands immediately after removing the covering.

World Health Organization advice for avoiding spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19)

Hygiene advice

  • Clean hands frequently with soap and water, or alcohol-based hand rub.
  • Wash hands after coughing or sneezing; when caring for the sick; before, during and after food preparation; before eating; after using the toilet; when hands are visibly dirty; and after handling animals or waste.
  • Maintain at least 1 meter (3 feet) distance from anyone who is coughing or sneezing.
  • Avoid touching your hands, nose and mouth. Do not spit in public.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or bent elbow when coughing or sneezing. Discard the tissue immediately and clean your hands.

Medical advice

  • Avoid close contact with others if you have any symptoms.
  • Stay at home if you feel unwell, even with mild symptoms such as headache and runny nose, to avoid potential spread of the disease to medical facilities and other people.
  • If you develop serious symptoms (fever, cough, difficulty breathing) seek medical care early and contact local health authorities in advance.
  • Note any recent contact with others and travel details to provide to authorities who can trace and prevent spread of the disease.
  • Stay up to date on COVID-19 developments issued by health authorities and follow their guidance.

Mask and glove usage

  • Healthy individuals only need to wear a mask if taking care of a sick person.
  • Wear a mask if you are coughing or sneezing.
  • Masks are effective when used in combination with frequent hand cleaning.
  • Do not touch the mask while wearing it. Clean hands if you touch the mask.
  • Learn how to properly put on, remove and dispose of masks. Clean hands after disposing of the mask.
  • Do not reuse single-use masks.
  • Regularly washing bare hands is more effective against catching COVID-19 than wearing rubber gloves.
  • The COVID-19 virus can still be picked up on rubber gloves and transmitted by touching your face.