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Former CDC director: 20,000 more COVID-19 deaths possible by end of month

Former CDC director: 20,000 more COVID-19 deaths possible by end of month
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Former Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Director Tom Frieden predicted October will see another 20,000 additional COVID-19 deaths based on the rising number of cases in dozens of states. 

Frieden, who served under former President Obama, spoke at CNN’s "Coronavirus: Facts and Fears" town hall on Sunday night and warned that he thinks that as many as 20,000 more people will die due to complications from the coronavirus by the end of the month.

“From the infections that have already occurred, we will see something like 20,000 deaths by the end of the month — additional deaths,” Frieden said, calling the number of deaths “inevitable.”

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“Anytime we ignore, minimize or underestimate this virus, we do so at our peril and the peril of people whose lives depend on us,” he added. “If you look around the world, the parts of the world — and even the parts of the U.S. — that have been guided by public health and have supported public health have done better,” he said.

Richard Besser, another former CDC director under Obama, told the audience that the predictions are not final, adding, “What we do matters.”

“If we follow the lead of public health, if we follow the lead of CDC and do the things that are working around the globe, in terms of wearing masks and social distancing and washing hands and investigating cases — ensuring people have what they need to isolate and quarantine — that we can have a very different trajectory and we can get this in control,” Besser said during the town hall.

The U.S. has confirmed more than 7.7 million COVID-19 cases and 214,776 fatalities, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.

But Frieden estimated that the actual number of COVID-19 deaths in the country is probably more than a quarter-million and the number of total cases is likely to be about 40 million, North Carolina NBC affiliate WXII12 reported.

He said the obstacle in determining the exact number of COVID-19 deaths is that death certificates are more likely to list any pre-existing health condition that a coronavirus patient had as the cause of the death, instead of COVID-19.

"If you die from cancer, and you also have diabetes, you still died from cancer," Frieden said at the town hall. "If you died from COVID, and you also had diabetes, you died from COVID."