Story at a glance

  • Daily coronavirus deaths have consistently topped 1,000.
  • CDC Director Robert Redfield says deaths are a lagging indicator, and he expects to see a decline in mortality across the country.
  • The health official said the U.S. is beginning to turn the tide on the outbreak in the south, but there are worrying figures being reported in parts of Middle America.

The head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on Thursday said coronavirus deaths in the U.S. should start declining around parts of the country by next week as the nation’s seven-day average for daily deaths has consistently topped 1,000.

“You and I are going to see the cases continue to drop. And then hopefully this week and next week, you’re going to start seeing the death rate really start to drop again,” Robert Redfield, director of the CDC, said in an interview with the Journal of the American Medical Association. 


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The daily average of new COVID-19 cases nationwide has been falling for weeks. But Redfield said it takes time for mitigation measures — such as encouraging the use of masks, social distancing and shutting down bars, as was done recently in hotspots like Arizona and Texas — to be reflected in the number of deaths. 

“It is important to understand these interventions are going to have a lag, that lag is going to be three to four weeks,” Redfield said. “Hopefully this week and next week you’re going to start seeing the death rate really start to drop.” 

The health official said the U.S. is beginning to turn the tide on the outbreak in the South, but there are worrying figures being reported in parts of Middle America. 

“We’re starting to see some of the cases now in the red zone areas are falling, but if you look at those states that are in what we call the yellow zone, between 5 percent and 10 percent, they’re not falling, so Middle America right now is getting stuck,” he said. 

The U.S. continues to lead the rest of the world in the number of cases and deaths, recording nearly 5.6 million infections and more than 174,000 fatalities since the outbreak began.

Published on Aug 21, 2020