Dr. Scott Gottlieb, a former head of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, on Tuesday said it’s safe to predict that coronavirus infections and hospitalizations will increase in May and that the U.S. simply might not be able to significantly decrease the transmission rate.
“I think the reality is we can predict that cases are going to go up over the course of May — there’s really nothing that’s going to bring them down,” Dr. Gottlieb, the former FDA chief under President Trump, said on CNBC.
“As we start to reopen the economy and restart activity - people are traveling more, you saw airline travel up on Friday the most it’s been in 30 days,” he said. “As all of that happens…you’ve got to expect cases are going to go up and hospitalizations are going to go up.”
In a separate interview, he said the U.S. has hit a plateau and isn’t seeing the kinds of declines that had been expected by this point.
“We need to understand this may be the new normal,” Dr. Gottlieb said on NBC’s “Today” show. “We may not be able to get transmission down much more. I hope we can.”
The White House on Monday distanced itself from reported internal projections that the number of daily coronavirus cases could hit 200,000 by June and the U.S. could reach 3,000 daily deaths by next month.
The U.S. is currently seeing roughly 30,000 new cases and close to 2,000 COVID-19-related deaths per day.
“It’s not at all clear that this model is a definitive model or an authoritative model in terms of what will happen — it’s one of a number of runs that the university did looking at different scenarios,” Dr. Gottlieb said on CNBC.
An influential model run out of the University of Washington on Monday revised its projected U.S. death toll upward to more than 134,000, roughly double what it had been.
Dr. Gottlieb is one of about 200 industry leaders and experts the White House has tapped to advise the administration on the coronavirus response.