The Osterholm Quotes

"Given previous influenza pandemics, and this not an influenza virus so we don't know for certain it will act like that, but if it did, by far the second wave was the worst one of each of the pandemics....A second wave (of COVID-19) in late summer or early fall that lasts three or four months could make everything we've experience so far seem mild."
"We want smart [SARS-CoV-2] testing. You want the right population and the right person in that population to be tested at the right time, with the right test, with the right result and the right outcome for what you're going to use that test result for. It's about being strategic."
"We’re so focused on numbers of people being tested [for COVID-19], and we are not focusing on what the accomplishment of that testing is all about."
"If you’re gonna ring a bell, you’d better have a way to unring it....I don’t see anybody right now elaborating on, well, what happens if [COVID-19] cases go up four-fold in a two-week period? Will we reestablish these measures that we’ve had in place?"
"You can't be in lockdown for 18 months. We'll destroy society as we know it, and we don't know what we'll accomplish with it....We can't just let the virus go. Lots of people will die and it'll shut down our health system, not just for COVID patients, but for anyone with a health problem. What we need is a plan."
"We all have to confront the fact there’s not a magic bullet, short of a vaccine, that’s going to make this [COVID-19] go away....We’re going to be living with it. And we’re not having that discussion at all."
"Well, we have to understand that we're riding this tiger; we are not directing it. This virus [SARS-CoV-2] is going to do what it's going to do. What we can do is only nibble at the edges. And I think it’s not a good message to send to the public that we can control this virus in a meaningful way."
"It wouldn't surprise me if it [SARS-CoV-2] was here in December. There was so much connection between Wuhan and here, I'd be surprised if it wasn't....The horse was long out of the barn before anybody thought to close the barn door."
"I don't think we're communicating very well at all with the public, because I keep having to tell these people, you know, even if we had a [COVID-19] vaccine that showed some evidence of protection by September, we are so far from having a vaccine in people's arms."
"This thing's not going to stop until it infects 60 to 70 percent of people....The idea that this is going to be done soon defies microbiology."
"There is a large body of data right now showing how easily this is transmitted just in the air by breathing. You can literally just walk into a room, where someone with the virus is breathing, and their virus will be floating in the air....It doesn't mean wherever I walk I'm going to get infected. But if you're close to someone who is infected, you have a good chance of getting infected yourself."
"When I hear New York talking about the fact they are down the backside of the mountain, I know they have been through hell. And that is an important statement. But they have to understand that’s not the mountain. That is the foothills. They have mountains to go yet. We have a lot of people to get infected [with the coronavirus] before this is over."
"But I think equally challenging going forward is that we are in for really rough days coming yet [with COVID-19], and that's where credibility and leadership are going to be everything. You have to trust the individual who is telling you how bad things are, how bad they will get....We are going to need FDR-like fireside chats over the course of the next year or two."
"As a country, we’re unprepared not just logistically but mentally for this next [COVID-19] phase....The way you prepare people for a sprint and marathon are very different. As a country, we are utterly unprepared for the marathon ahead.
"There's got to be an approach in the middle. I call it 'threading the rope through the needle,' where we open our economy and everyday life in a way that is capable of rapidly detecting the emergence of new waves of [SARS-CoV-2] infection. Then we do whatever we can again with physical distancing to limit the new infection's spread."
"As we learn more about the transmission of this virus [SARS-CoV-2], it's very clear that it is at least, if not more, infectious than even what the world experienced in the historic pandemic influenza of 1918. And I'm convinced that this pandemic is following what we experienced in 1918."
"60 days ago, this virus infection [SARS-CoV-2] was not even among the top 75 causes of death in the United States....For the last week and a half, it's been the number cause of death day after day after day. That's serious. This is not the flu."
"This first wave [of the coronavirus] … is just the beginning of what could easily be 16 to 18 months of substantial activity of this virus around the world, coming and going, wave after wave....It surely is a virus that likely will have to infect at least 60 to 70 percent of the population before you’re going to see a major reduction in its transmission."
"I think people haven't understood that this [the COVID-19 pandemic] isn't about the next couple of weeks...This is about the next two years."
"The question is what does it take for you to get infected [with the coronavirus]? And that I think is the trillion-dollar question we have....Maybe all it takes is an aerosol. You don't need any droplets at all."
"This is not even the beginning of the end [of the COVID-19 pandemic], rather, this is the end of the beginning, we now need to realize we have a long road ahead of us."
"Reagents for [COVID-19] testing were kind of filled through a garden hose worldwide and then Wuhan came along and they had to step it up to, frankly, a firehose....And now that the entire world is on fire and the entire world wants to test, we need a canal of reagents."
"There is a gender issue here [with COVID-19] and it can't be accounted for just by obesity and smoking. Obesity is equal among both, smoking is about equal among both. None of us know,"
"We have to reopen somehow. We can’t go in shutdown mode for 20 months....If we shut down like Wuhan, we destroy society as we know it. If we allow the virus to run willy nilly, we will destroy our healthcare system and the economy with it."
"I think the bottom line ... is a really important one -- that we are all obviously occupied and terribly concerned about what's happening right now [with COVID-19], but we could be in the first inning of a nine-inning game [where] we've got 18 or more months left until we get the vaccine."


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