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Former FDA commissioner Scott Gottlieb told CBS News' "Face the Nation" on Sunday that surging coronavirus cases across the Sun Belt are a result of "community spread that's been underway for some time" and that even if states take aggressive action to curb the spread now — which they're not — cases will continue to grow for weeks.

Why it matters: Skyrocketing cases in Florida and Texas have caused state leadership to hit pause on parts of their reopening plans. But Gottlieb argued that the piecemeal actions these new hotspots are taking, like closing bars, are far weaker than stay-at-home orders and will only have a "marginal" impact that may not manifest for weeks.

  • "These are major epidemics that are underway in the South and the Southeast right now," Gottlieb said.
  • "Look at New York. New York implemented the stay-at-home order on March 20, it was a Friday. It went into effect on Sunday. They peaked in terms of the number of daily cases that they were reporting on April 7," he added.
  • "So almost three weeks after they implemented the stay-at-home order, the cases continued to build and then they started to slowly decline."

The big picture: Over half the country — 26 states — have seen their coronavirus caseloads increase over the past week. The Trump administration has blamed the surges partially on increased testing, but public health experts say that increasing test doesn't fully explain the massive spike in infections

  • Gottlieb argued that states like Florida and Texas should have taken a two-week pause between phases of their reopening in order to assess the impacts of reopening, pointing to the success of Maryland, New Jersey and Michigan as an example.
  • His comments echo those of former CDC director Tom Frieden, who equated states reopening while cases were still growing to "leaning into a left hook."

What they're saying: "It's going to be hard to extinguish. We're going to have many weeks ahead of us of continued growth in these cases, at least two or three weeks — even if we take aggressive actions right now, which across the board we're not doing," Gottlieb said.

  • "You look at states like Florida, which might be in the worst shape right now, it looks like they may be tipping over into exponential growth, and so they're going to see perhaps rapid acceleration in number of cases," Gottlieb said.

Between the lines: While new coronavirus cases are largely being reported in younger populations, Gottlieb says that this trend is "not likely to stay that way."

  • "This spread is likely to seep into more vulnerable communities and we're likely to see total daily deaths start to go back up again."

Go deeper: Pence disputes that virus surge was caused by states reopening too quickly

Go deeper

Updated Nov 29, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Health: WHO: AstraZeneca vaccine must be evaluated on "more than a press release."
  2. Politics: McConnell temporarily halts in-person lunches for GOP caucusColorado Governor and partner test positive.
  3. Economy: Safety nets to disappear in DecemberAmazon hires 1,400 workers a day throughout pandemic.
  4. Education: U.S. public school enrollment drops as pandemic persists.
  5. Cities: Surge in cases forces San Francisco to impose curfew — Los Angeles County issues stay-at-home order, limits gatherings.
  6. Sports: NFL bans in-person team activities Monday as crisis engulfs league, Tuesday due to COVID-19 surge — NBA announces new coronavirus protocols.
  7. World: London police arrest more than 150 during anti-lockdown protests — Thailand, Philippines sign deal with AstraZeneca for vaccine.

Axios-Ipsos poll: Trump's COVID hasn't shaken America's views

Data: Axios/Ipsos poll; Note: ±5.1% margin of error; Chart: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

Some Americans say they're more likely to wear masks or social distance in the aftermath of President Trump's coronavirus diagnosis, but there's no evidence in any big shift in attitudes toward Trump himself, according to the latest installment of the Axios/Ipsos Coronavirus Index.

Between the lines: The early polling numbers, taken right after the news broke that Trump had tested positive, suggest that the public's attitudes toward Trump are so deeply settled that even the shock of an event like this can't shake them.

N.J. governor: Health officials have contacted 184 people from Trump fundraiser

President Trump meets with New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy in the Oval Office of the White House on April 30.

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy (D) blasted President Trump and his staff on Monday, saying they "acted recklessly" by attending last week's fundraiser event in Bedminster after learning they had been exposed to the coronavirus.

Driving the news: The Republican National Committee sent New Jersey health officials a list on Friday of at least 206 people who may have been exposed to the coronavirus at the fundraiser, which Trump attended after learning that his close aide Hope Hicks had tested positive. Murphy said on Monday that state health officials had contacted 184 of the 206 people.

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