Jul 12, 2020 - Health

Ex-FDA chief projects "apex" of South's coronavirus curve in 2-3 weeks

Former FDA commissioner Scott Gottlieb said on CBS News' "Face the Nation" Sunday that he expects the coronavirus outbreaks in Southern states like Texas, Florida and Arizona to reach their apex in the next two to three weeks — but warned that this would likely be followed by an "extended plateau," as seen in places like Brazil.

Why it matters: Southern states were among the first to reopen after lockdowns in March and April and are now experiencing a surge in cases. Gottlieb said that while the death rate has been lower than it was in the spring, it's likely to increase to over 1,000 new deaths a day as infections seep into older populations.

Driving the news: Florida, one of the worst-hit states in the country, reported more than 15,000 new cases on Sunday — smashing the single-day record for any state. Overall, 33 states saw their caseloads increase last week, continuing a scary nationwide trend that’s been getting worse since mid-June.

What Gottlieb is saying: "You see Google mobility data and OpenTable reservations starting to decline in these Southern states where these dense epidemics are happening, which is an indication that consumers are pulling back. And that's going to create somewhat of a backstop."

  • "New York really followed the pattern of Italy, where it was a sharp up, a huge epidemic, but it came down rapidly. I think in the South you are likely to see an extended plateau. We really don't have a national approach here. What we have is state approaches that are creating regional effects, and so those regional effects are different."
  • "The New York experience mirrored Italy. I think the Southern experience is more likely to mirror Brazil where you're likely to see more of an extended plateau once we reach that apex. And we could reach that apex in the next two to three weeks."

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