Former FDA Chief: Social Distancing ‘Didn’t Work As Well As We Expected’

Social distancing isn’t working.

The idea that people standing six feet apart will fix a pandemic is — and always has been — silly.

And Former Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Commissioner Dr. Scott Gottlieb agrees.

On CBS’s “Face the Nation on Sunday,” Gottlieb said social distancing — as well as other mitigation measures imposed by governors — don’t appear to be working nearly as well as public health experts had projected.

“When you look across the country, it’s really a mixed bag,” Gottlieb said.

“[W]hen you back out what’s happening in New York … around the nation, hospitalizations and new cases continue to rise. There are about 20 states where we see a rising number of new cases. Illinois, Texas, Maryland, Indiana, Virginia, North Carolina, Tennessee, have a lot of new cases on a daily basis,” Gottlieb said.

The commissioner said mitigation efforts make sense, but so far, the results are falling well short of what experts were hoping to see.

“While mitigation didn’t fail, I think it’s fair to say it didn’t work as well as we expected. We expected we’d start seeing more significant declines in new case and deaths around the nation at this point, and we’re just not seeing that,” Gottlieb said.

The former FDA commissioner also had some dark predictions.

“I think when you look out to the end of June, it’s probably the case that we’re going to get above 100,000 deaths nationally. … We may be facing the prospect that 20,000, 30,000 new cases a day diagnosed becomes a new normal. And 1,000 or more deaths becomes the new normal as well. Right now we’re seeing for about 30 days now, about 30,000 cases a day and 2,000 deaths a day. And if you factor in that we’re probably diagnosing only 1 in 10 infections, those 30,000 cases are really 300,000 cases,” Gottlieb said.

To date there have been more than 1.1 million confirmed COVID-19 cases in the U.S., with 66,000 deaths, which means the death rate is 6%, at least among confirmed cases. But several studies show the virus is far more widespread and up to 50% show no signs, so the death rate is likely far less, perhaps even less that 1%.




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