Former CDC chief 'very worried' US will reach 300,000 COVID-19 deaths by the end of the year

Richard Besser, the former acting director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), warned Thursday that the U.S. could reach 300,000 fatalities from the coronavirus pandemic by the end of the year as COVID-19 cases continue to spike across the country. 

Besser, who currently serves as the president and CEO of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, said it is “absolutely mind-numbing” that the U.S. has already reached the grim milestone of over a quarter-million deaths from complications of COVID-19 in the U.S.

“It is absolutely mind-numbing to think that we have lost that many people, each individual representing a friend, a family member, someone whose life had value. One of the things that’s so true in public health is that it’s much easier for people to grasp the meaning when two or three people die in an accident than it is to truly understand what it means to lose 250,000 people,” Besser told ABC's “Good Morning America” host Robin Roberts. 


“I worry, Robin, that if we don’t change what we’re doing, we’re going to be having a conversation before the end of the year about 300,000 people,” he continued. 

Asked whether the U.S. could reach 300,000 fatalities in “just a matter of six weeks of so,” Besser responded: “We’re losing more than 1,000 people a day, and the numbers are rising. If we don’t recommit, I am very worried about that.”

An estimated 172,391 COVID-19 cases were reported on Wednesday alone in the U.S., as well as 1,923 fatalities. 

The country has recorded more than 100,000 coronavirus cases every day since the Nov. 3 election.

Anthony FauciAnthony FauciFauci to appear on Fox Business Friday for rare interview on the network Hawaii reports its first omicron case Glenn Greenwald discusses criticism of Fauci overseeing 'medically unjustifiable' experiments on dogs MORE, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, last week called on Americans to double down on health precautions like social distancing or wearing a mask or face covering as states across the country continue to see rising coronavirus cases.  

“What we need to do is what we’ve been talking about for some time now, but really doubling down on it. There are certain fundamental, baseline things that you can do: universal and uniform wearing of masks; avoiding crowded, congregate situations; keeping physical distance,” Fauci told “Good Morning America,” adding people should try to do activities outdoors even during the fall and winter months.