Former Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Scott Gottlieb said the nation is “right back where we were” when the first peak in coronavirus infections occurred earlier this year and noted concerning distinctions about the new surge.
“We’re right back where we were at the peak of the epidemic during the New York outbreak,” Gottlieb said on CBS’ “Face the Nation.” “The difference now is that we really had one epicenter of spread when New York was going through its hardship. Now we really have four major epicenters of spread: Los Angeles, cities in Texas, cities in Florida and Arizona. And Florida looks to be in the worst shape, and Georgia is heating up as well, and that’s concerning.”
His remarks come as many states reported record spikes in cases and hospitalizations, and some reversed reopening plans. On Saturday, Florida recorded 11,458 new cases, surpassing the New York epicenter’s previous one-day high of 11,434, recorded in mid-April. Over the past week, 21 states set new all-time case records, according to the COVID Tracking Project.
Texas, South Carolina, Arizona, Nevada and California have reported record numbers of current coronavirus-related hospitalizations, the Washington Post reported. Despite the troubling spikes, President Donald Trump has downplayed the situation, saying the virus will “just disappear” and blaming the increases on improved testing. He has also fixated on the falling mortality rate, claiming falsely at a Fourth of July event that 99% of coronavirus cases in the U.S. “are totally harmless.”
“The number of deaths has gone down because the number of infections went down for a period of time and more of the new infections right now are in younger people, and we’re protecting more vulnerable populations like people in nursing homes,” Gottlieb explained.
“But the total number of deaths is going to start going up again as the number of hospitalizations starts to spike again.”
Even as the mortality rate declines due to advances in care and less vulnerable populations being infected, the fast-climbing number of infections will have grim repercussions, he said.
“So if we cut the death rate in half, if we make this half less lethal than it was, but we double the number of infections, we’re going to get more deaths. And I think we’re going to start to see that,” he said.
“Medically, we are improving. But we just have so much infection around this country, we’re going to see, unfortunately, a lot of lethality.”
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