U.S. officials are preparing to battle two bad viruses circulating at the same time as the coronavirus outbreak runs into flu season next fall and winter.
The Covid-19 outbreak in the U.S. hit just as the flu season was ending this year, Robert Redfield, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said at a White House press briefing Wednesday. But they won’t have that benefit of using the country’s flu surveillance system to track the Covid-19 pandemic next flu season year, he said.
“Next fall and winter, we’re going to have two viruses circulating and we’re going to have to distinguish between which is flu and which is the coronavirus,” he said.
Earlier in the press conference, President Donald Trump said Redfield was “totally misquoted” when he said challenges from the coronavirus could be “more difficult” in the winter.
“He was talking about the flu and corona coming together at the same time,” Trump said, “and corona could be just some little flare-ups that we’ll take care of.”
Redfield told The Washington Post on Tuesday that the already daunting task of responding to the coronavirus outbreak could only become more challenging in the winter, when flu season begins.
“There’s a possibility that the assault of the virus on our nation next winter will actually be even more difficult than the one we just went through,” Redfield told the Post. “And when I’ve said this to others, they kind of put their head back, they don’t understand what I mean.”
“We’re going to have the flu epidemic and the coronavirus epidemic at the same time,” the newspaper reported him saying.
President Donald Trump on Wednesday morning lashed out at CNN, which reported on the Post’s interview with Redfield.
“CDC Director was totally misquoted by Fake News @CNN on Covid 19,” Trump tweeted.
It was not clear at the time if the president was reacting to reporting on Redfield’s comments to the Post.
But on Wednesday afternoon, White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany said on Fox News that she had just spoken with Redfield on the phone and “the mainstream media has been taking him out of context, as they so often do with Trump administration officials.”
McEnany added that what Redfield “was trying to” urge Americans to get a flu shot.
“The flu comes back in the fall. Be smart, American people,” Redfield meant to say, according to McEnany.
“That’s what he was saying. But leave it to CNN and some of the other networks to really take those comments out of context,” McEnany said.
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