May 3, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Ex-FDA head says mitigation hasn't worked "as well as we expected"

Former FDA commissioner Scott Gottlieb told CBS News' "Face the Nation" on Sunday that despite widespread mitigation efforts, the coronavirus has exhibited "persistent spread" that could mean a "new normal" of 30,000 new cases and over 1,000 deaths a day through the summer.

Why it matters: While coronavirus cases are declining in New York — the hotspot of the virus in the U.S. — outbreaks are still growing in several states after nearly two months of social distancing. This comes as many states are beginning to reopen parts of their economy, risking a resurgence of the virus.

What he's saying:

"I think when you look out to the end of June, it's probably the case that we're going to get above 100,000 deaths nationally. ... We may be facing the prospect that 20,000, 30,000 new cases a day diagnosed becomes a new normal. And 1,000 or more deaths becomes the new normal as well. Right now we're seeing for about 30 days now, about 30,000 cases a day and 2,000 deaths a day. And if you factor in that we're probably diagnosing only 1 in 10 infections, those 30,000 cases are really 300,000 cases."
— Scott Gottlieb

Between the lines: Projections by the White House coronavirus task force on the death toll from the coronavirus have fluctuated in recent weeks.

  • President Trump said earlier this week that he's expecting 60,000–70,000 deaths from the coronavirus, a downward revision after initial projections showed 100,000 at a minimum.
  • But Deborah Birx, the White House coronavirus coordinator, repeated the initial projection of 100,000–240,000 on "Fox News Sunday," as the actual death toll in the U.S. surged past 66,000.
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