Former FDA commissioner warns of new fall epidemic amid ‘persistent spread’

Gottlieb, who served early in the Trump administration, said the “doubling time has come down dramatically,” — the number of days it takes for the epidemic to double in size. But he warned, “We may be facing the prospect that 20,000, 30,000 new cases a day diagnosed becomes a new normal and a thousand or more deaths becomes a new normal as well.”

That type of scenario may continue “through the summer,” he said, when people start to “[let] their guard down a little more, and people are back at work after an August recess, and then you can see this slow simmer explode into a new epidemic, or a large outbreak.”

“That’s the concern,” he added, “that if we don’t snuff this out more, that you have this slow burn of infection, it can ignite at any time.”

Gottlieb noted that new cases are still creeping up in about 20 states, like Illinois, Texas, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, Tennessee, among others. Meanwhile, states across the country are slowly starting to reopen, in sort of a patchwork approach.