• The upcoming winter months could be "the most difficult in the public health history" of the US, Robert Redfield, the director for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said Wednesday.
  • More than 100,000 patients are being treated for COVID-19 in US hospitals as of Wednesday, according to data collected by the COVID Tracking Project.
  • Nearly 19,40 of those patients are currently in intensive care, with 6,855 on a ventilator, citing the data.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

The upcoming winter months could be "the most difficult in the public health history" of the US, Robert Redfield, the director for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said Wednesday.

The CDC director delivered the grim warning at an event hosted by the US Chamber of Commerce, where he emphasized the spikes in COVID-19 hospitalizations in the country.

"So we are at a very critical time right now about being able to maintain the resilience of our health-care system," Redfield said.

More than 100,000 patients are being treated for COVID-19 in US hospitals as of Wednesday, according to data collected by the COVID Tracking Project. Nearly 19,40 of those patients are currently in intensive care, with 6,855 on a ventilator, according to the data.

"The reality is December and January and February are going to be rough times," he said. "I actually believe they're going to be the most difficult in the public health history of this nation, largely because of the stress that's going to be put on our health-care system."

The US is also recording rising death rates, with the country reporting between 1,500 and 2,500 deaths per day, Redfield said.

"The mortality concerns are real," he continued. "And I do think unfortunately, before we see February, we could be close to 450,000 Americans [who] have died from this virus."

Dr. Beth Bell, a global health expert at the University of Washington who serves as the work group co-chair for the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP), said the US is averaging one death from COVID-19 per minute.

"There is an average of one covid death per minute right now," she said during the Tuesday meeting. "In the time it takes us to have this ACIP meeting, 180 people will have died from COVID-19, so we are acting none too soon."

She spoke at a Tuesday meeting for the panel to discuss and vote on recommendations for the distribution of a coronavirus vaccine. The committee voted that an estimated 21 million healthcare workers and three million nursing home residents and staff should be first in line to receive the vaccine from the initial limited supply, according to The Washington Post.

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