In case recent events haven't made it clear enough, there's no question that the U.S. remains in a suspended state of reckless partisanship when it comes to gathering behind any semblance of unity in the ongoing pandemic battle.
With the election looming, the current administration has continued its attacks on health experts who have urged the public to come together by keeping containment guidelines on the brain as we move into the holidays, with emphasis—particularly from Trump—placed on quickly refuted attempts at discrediting Dr. Anthony Fauci of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.
During an appearance on NBC's Meet the Press with Chuck Todd over the weekend, Michael Osterholm—the director for the University of Minnesota's Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy—cut through the noise to share his assessment of the current state of pandemic affairs in the U.S.
When asked about 20 minutes into the show whether he shared the misleading optimism put forth by the White House and others, Osterholm offered a reality check.
"I don't," he said. "Only in the sense that, again, we're not really telling the complete story. We do have vaccines and therapeutics coming down the pike but when you actually look at the time period for that, the next six to twelve weeks are gonna be the darkest of the entire pandemic. Vaccines will not become available in any meaningful way until early to third quarter of next year. And even then, half the U.S. population at this point is skeptical of even taking the vaccine."
The bulk of the American issue, he added, is that we are suffering from a "major problem in messaging" and have been for quite some time.
"People don't know what to believe," Osterholm said. "And that's one of our huge challenges going forward. We've gotta get the message to the public that reflects the science and reflects reality."
As it stands now, Osterholm said, there is a damaging lack of a "consolidated" voice of reason at the government level. Furthermore, the COVID-19 numbers are looking particularly troubling as we inch closer toward the end of the year.
"We will see numbers much much larger than even the 67-75,000 cases," he said. "No one has a good story about what to do there."
If Biden wins the election, Osterholm added, his hope is that a new administration will be able to ditch the partisan issues surrounding the pandemic response while laying out a clear plan that Americans will receive, understand, and implement in their daily lives.