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The CDC director said the storming of the Capitol is likely a COVID-19 'surge event' that will 'have public health consequences'

Business Insider logo Business Insider 1/10/2021 insider@insider.com (John L. Dorman)
a group of people riding skis on a snowy surface: A pro-Trump mob breaks into the US Capitol building in Washington, DC on January 6, 2021. Win McNamee/Getty Images © Win McNamee/Getty Images A pro-Trump mob breaks into the US Capitol building in Washington, DC on January 6, 2021. Win McNamee/Getty Images
  • Dr. Robert Redfield, the outgoing director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), said on Friday that the mass riots at the US Capitol would likely be a COVID-19 "surge event."
  • "These individuals all are going in cars and trains and planes going home all across the country right now," he said. "So I do think this is an event that will probably lead to a significant spreading event. This is an event that is going to have public health consequences."
  • On January 7, the US recorded more than 4,000 COVID-19 deaths, the highest daily figure since the start of the pandemic, and Redfield said that the numbers are likely to only increase.
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Dr. Robert Redfield, the outgoing Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) director under President Donald Trump, said on Friday that the mass riots at the US Capitol would likely be a COVID-19 "surge event" that could have repercussions nationwide.

In an interview with McClatchy, Redfield said the riot, which left five people dead, was a "very, very sad day" for the country, and expressed his concern that members of Congress and law enforcement officials may have been exposed to the coronavirus. After the pro-Trump mob breached the building, they roamed the hallways and majestic spaces inside the complex, ransacking offices and leaving litter throughout the building.

"I do think you have to anticipate that this is another surge event," he said. "You had largely unmasked individuals in a non-distanced fashion, who were all through the Capitol."

Redfield noted that after the riot, "these individuals all are going in cars and trains and planes going home all across the country." 

"So I do think this is an event that will probably lead to a significant spreading event," Redfield said. "This is an event that is going to have public health consequences."


Gallery: The Surgeon General Just Made a 'Scary' Admission About the COVID Surge (ETNT Health)

As the aftermath of the riots lingered in the minds of most Americans, the COVID-19 pandemic, which ravaged the country in 2020, is reaching some of its most devastating highs yet.

Read more: President-elect Biden expressed confidence his inauguration will be safe. A few hours later, Twitter warned there's talk of another DC Capitol attack on January 17th.

On January 7, the US recorded more than 4,000 COVID-19 deaths, the highest daily figure since the start of the pandemic, and Redfield expressed that the numbers are likely to only increase, despite the rollout of vaccines across the country.

"We haven't hit the peak of the current surge," he said. "Clearly, the amount of mortality we're seeing, as many of us are trying to stress, is more than we saw on Pearl Harbor or 9/11, over and over and over again. That's the state of the pandemic unfortunately we're at right now."

Redfield said that the biggest cause of the COVID-spread at the moment was unmasked citizens gathering together indoors, especially during the Christmas and New Year's Eve holidays.

"We're going to continue to see mortality in the 2,500-5,000 a day range," he stressed. "This is going to continue to get worse through January, and probably parts of February before we really start to turn the corner."

Since the pandemic began in the US last year, nearly 22 million people have been infected and more than 369,000 people have died, according to the latest data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.

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