Michael Osterholm, director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota, told told CNN's Erin Burnett Thursday (December 16) that the Delta variant remains a top concern, while the high transmissibility of the Omicron variant could infect millions of Americans as hospitalizations rise and long lines for coronavirus testing continue to shape in major cities.
"We're really just about to experience a viral blizzard," Osterholm said. "In the next three to eight weeks, we're going to see millions of Americans are going to be infected with this virus, and that will be overlaid on top of Delta, and we're not yet sure exactly how that's going to work out."
Osterholm said Omicron is expected to have a negative impact on the health care system as more workers will likely get infected, though most cases have been mild so far.
"What you have here right now is a potential perfect storm," Osterholm said. "I've been very concerned about the fact that we could easily see a quarter or a third of our health care workers quickly becoming cases themselves."
On Thursday, the CDC reported the seven-day average for deaths in relation to COVID-19 was 1,286, which is an 8% increase from the previous month.
Additionally, the seven-day average of new cases exceeded 120,000 and the total number of hospitalizations is above 68,000, both of which are up 40% from the previous month.