COVID-19 cases hit a daily record on Friday. States from Utah to Texas are setting up overflow hospitals or starting to ration care. States are seeing upticks big and small, with no immediate end in sight. Dr. Scott Gottlieb, former head of the FDA and a board member for one vaccine maker, went on CBS’s Face the Nation to discuss why this was such a dangerous moment—and what you can do about it. Read on to hear his advice, and to ensure your health and the health of others, don’t miss these Sure Signs You’ve Already Had Coronavirus.
He Says We’re at a “Dangerous Tipping Point”
“We’re at a dangerous tipping point right now, we’re entering what’s going to be the steep slope of the curve of the epidemic curve,” he said. “We know what that looks like from the spring. We know it looks like from this summer. These cases are going to continue to build. There’s really no backstop here. I don’t see forceful policy intervention happening any time soon. We have a moment of opportunity right now to take some forceful steps to try to abate the spread that’s underway. But if we don’t do that, if we miss this window, this is going to continue to accelerate and it’s going to be more difficult to get under control.”
He Says the Next Two Weeks Will “Look Much More Difficult”
“Now in a lot of parts of the country, it doesn’t feel really, really bad right now because it’s a little bad everywhere. You don’t have regions where it’s extremely dense in any one region like we did when it was epidemic in New York or epidemic in the south outside of states like Wisconsin or Iowa. Most states just have a lot of spread, but most states aren’t at the point where they’re extremely pressed right now. That’s going to change over the next two to three weeks. I think things are going to look much more difficult. And so we need to take some steps right now.”
He Says We Cannot Shutdown
“There is no public support for shutdowns—nationally like we did in the spring. That’s not going to happen. So we need to reach for other measures.”
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The White House Says It’s Not Trying to Control the Pandemic. He Thinks We All Should Try to Control It.
“Well, I think that’s what they’re saying, but I don’t think that’s what we should be doing,” he said, in response to White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows’ comments to CNN on Sunday, in which he said: “We’re not going to control the pandemic. We are going to control the fact that we get vaccines, therapeutics and other mitigations.” Said Gottlieb in response: “There’s things that we can do to slow the spread. I mean, a national mask mandate can be put into place. It doesn’t need to be backed up with fines or stringent enforcement. We have other requirements that we expect of a civil society that we enforce with, you know, political jawboning, leadership. We give people warnings at first. So, I think masks are one thing that we could be doing. We need to look at targeted mitigation, starting to close congregate settings where we know spread is happening.”
He Said a Vaccine Would Come Soon—But Not Soon Enough For You to Do Nothing Now
“Remember, even if we get a vaccine this year and I’m on the board of Pfizer one of the companies that’s pretty far along in developing a vaccine, even that- if that becomes available this year and we get shots into the arms of the first tranche of patients, which is likely to be the elderly and health care workers, they’re not going to have protective immunity until 2021 at some point in 2021—because it takes time for that vaccine to kick in and you need two doses. So this vaccine is not going to affect the contours of what we’re going to go through, which is going to play out in the next two or three months right now.”
He Gave Advice About Which Mask to Wear—and Why
“Well, remember, the masks serve two purposes. One is to protect other people from you. So if you’re asymptomatic or pre-symptomatic, if you have a mask on, you’re less likely to expel respiratory droplets that can infect other people. The other purpose is to provide you some measure of protection if, in fact, you’re around people who are infected. So if you want to mask to afford you some protection from other people, quality matters. A cloth mask, may be 10% to 30% protective, a surgical mask,a level two or level three, surgical mask, procedure mask, maybe about 60% effective. An N95 mask or an equivalent like a KN95 mask, which is the Chinese equivalent or what we call an FFP2 mask, which is a European equivalent to an N95 that could be 90-95% protective. So if you want to mask to afford you a level of protection, wear a higher quality mask. If you only can get a cloth mask, thickness matters and cloth masks with polyester in them and a combination of polyester and cotton do better.”
How to Avoid COVID-19
As for yourself, 35 states in America are seeing dramatic rises in cases and, in many, hospitalizations. No matter where you live, wear your face mask, avoid crowded, hang outdoors more than indoor, practice good hand hygiene, and to get through this pandemic at your healthiest, don’t miss these 35 Places You’re Most Likely to Catch COVID.