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

Coronavirus testing czar: "We are not flattening the curve right now"

Adm. Brett Giroir, the Health and Human Services official overseeing the nation's coronavirus testing efforts, told Congress Thursday that the U.S. is "not flattening the curve right now," and that the nationwide surge in new cases is not simply a result of more testing.

Why it matters: President Trump said at a press conference just hours earlier that the U.S. is getting the coronavirus "under control." He and other top members of his administration have sought to downplay the growing surge in infections as largely a product of increased testing.

Jul 1, 2020 - Health

Former FDA chief: 500K Americans may be contracting coronavirus a day

Scott Gottlieb, the Trump administration's former FDA commissioner, told CNBC Wednesday that the United States is likely only diagnosing one in 10 new coronavirus infections and that between 400,000 and 500,000 Americans may be contracting the virus every day.

Why it matters: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warned in June that the country's total number of infections may be closer to more than 23 million — or around 10x the 2.3 million confirmed cases at the time.

Updated Jul 2, 2020 - Health

U.S. daily coronavirus cases top 50,000 for first time

A medical technologist processes test samples for the coronavirus at a lab in Tampa, Florida, on June 25. Photo: Octavio Jones/Getty Images

The number of people to test positive for the novel coronavirus in the U.S. surpassed 50,000 for the first time ever on Wednesday, Johns Hopkins data shows.

Driving the news: The pandemic is accelerating across the U.S., with the Sun Belt being hit particularly hard. Daily coronavirus case records were reported on Wednesday in Texas (8,076), Arizona (4,878), Georgia (2,946), North Carolina (1,843) and Tennessee (1,806).