Coronavirus cases in the U.S. will continue to rise in May as states relax restrictions on businesses, Dr. Scott Gottlieb told CNBC on Tuesday.
“You’ve got to expect cases are going to go up and hospitalizations are going to go up. We don’t know how much but they’re not going to go down,” the former Food and Drug Administration commissioner said on “Squawk Box.”
Gottlieb said that is because state economies are being reopened and airline travel is starting to rebound while “there still is a lot of spread of this virus around the country.”
“There’s really nothing that’s going to keep them from … going down over the course of this month. The hope is that they don’t go up a lot,” he added.
Gottlieb, a CNBC contributor who sits on the boards of Pfizer and biotech company Illumina, said the U.S. needs to establish better plans for easing up on business restrictions and other mitigation efforts while Covid-19 is still a threat.
“We need to start focusing resources on the places where this is likely to become much more endemic,” he said, such as nursing homes, factories and meatpacking plants. He said “disadvantaged communities” that lack access to testing and medical care are also at risk.
There are nearly 1.2 million confirmed cases of Covid-19 in the U.S., according to data from Johns Hopkins University on Tuesday morning. More than 69,000 people have died.
Gottlieb said the U.S. will continue to uncover cases as testing capacity expands, expressing optimism that “really robust testing” will be available by June. He also said he believes the country will have additional personal protective equipment in the summer.
“Certainly heading into the fall we’re going to be in a much different posture,” he said, but he cautioned against believing the country has moved past the Covid-19 pandemic.
Gottlieb said hospitalization rates are going down in New York, the epicenter of the outbreak, but not nationally. “The troubling sign is that we still see them going up,” he said. “So you certainly can’t conclude that the epidemic’s reached its peak and is turning a corner. At best, it’s plateaued.”