U.S. coronavirus infections are unlikely to peak till after Thanksgiving, says Dr. Scott Gottlieb
The recent surge in U.S. coronavirus cases is unlikely to peak until after Thanksgiving, said Dr. Scott Gottlieb told CNBC on Thursday, a strong prediction for a nation already having record levels of diagnosed infections.
The 7-day mean of new cases hit a new high of nearly 74,200 on Wednesday, according to a CNBC analysis of Johns Hopkins University data. This corresponds to an increase of 23.6% compared to the previous week.
Gottlieb, a former appointee to the US Food and Drug Administration under the Trump administration, said transmission rates only really fell in previous Covid-19 shocks when Americans in badly affected regions began to “be more cautious” by adding they walked less and wear face masks regularly.
“And I think it will unfortunately take more infections before we get there,” he said in an interview with Squawk Box. “I think this will be a turning point after Thanksgiving, when infection rates get so high in many parts of the country that there is a political response and consumer behavior changes too. The month of December is likely to really be spent crouching down a little more and hope we will go around the corner when we come into the new year. “
According to CNBC’s analysis of Hopkins data, new cases of Covid-19 are increasing in 47 states, based on an average of seven days. Hospital stays have reached record highs in 16 states, including many Midwestern states such as Wisconsin, Ohio, and the Dakotas.
In total, the US has nearly 8.9 million confirmed cases of the coronavirus and at least 227,703 deaths, Hopkins data shows. As of Wednesday, there were 78,981 newly diagnosed infections, according to Hopkins data. “We will probably overcome 100,000 infections in the next few weeks,” said Gottlieb. “We could do it this week if all states report on time.”
Gottlieb expressed concern that families meeting around Thanksgiving are contributing to the further spread of the coronavirus and making December “the more difficult month”. He said his family would not collect this Thanksgiving Day because of Covid-19.
The country’s best infectious disease expert, 79-year-old Dr. Anthony Fauci, has made similar plans, stating that his three children will not travel to see him as they would have to fly and use public transport to do so.
“I have older parents. I will not bring together a large group of people and risk older people whom we have been able to protect from this virus so far,” said Gottlieb. “I think we’re going to celebrate together in 2021, Thanksgiving 2021. We have to get through the next few months. This is the toughest point in this pandemic, the next two months. … We can’t give up our watch right now. I think we must continue to be vigilant. “