Former FDA Commish Gottlieb Sees Delta Surge Wane in South, Uptick in North

Former Food and Drug Administration commissioner Dr. Scott Gottlieb said Sunday there are signs the COVID-19 delta variant surge in the South is ending, but that cases are ticking up in the North.

In an interview on CBS News’ “Face The Nation,” Gottlieb, who is on the board of Pfizer, said the surge is “certainly getting worse” currently in the hard-hit southern states — but that he expects it to eventually “sweep across the nation.”

“I think you’re going to start to see improvements, particularly in the South,” he said. “There is evidence that the rate of growth in the cases in the South is starting to decline. I think that this week you may see some of the states that have been the outbreak states start to tip over in terms of showing less cases on a daily basis.

“The rate of expansion, the epidemic is clearly slowing in states like Florida, Louisiana, Arkansas, Missouri,” he continued. “But at the same time, we now see the virus spreading to northern states. So cases are building in states like Illinois, Indiana, North Carolina. So this is an epidemic that’s going to sweep across the nation at different points in time. “

According to Gottlieb, the northern states, however, “are more impervious to the kind of spread we saw in the South, but they’re not completely impervious. “

“They have higher vaccination rates, there’s been more prior infection. But there’s still people who are vulnerable in those states,” Gottlieb said.

Gottlieb said schools around the nation need to reopen this fall with “humility and prudence” — and stick to protocols that were own place earlier this year.

“I would enter the school year with a degree of caution and keep in place some of these measures and see how it goes, particularly in areas where there’s higher prevalence,” Gottlieb said. “I wouldn’t be withdrawing these things as a priori before the school year gets underway, given the fact that we’re dealing with a strain that we don’t fully understand. This strain is clearly more transmissible. It’s going to be harder to control in a school setting, and it may be more pathogenic. Kids are getting sick with it.”

Gottlieb added that “I can’t think of a business right now that would put 30 unvaccinated people in a confined space without masks and keep them there for the whole day.”

“And yet that’s what we’re going to be doing in some schools. So I think we need to enter the school year with a degree of humility and prudence,” he said.

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