Gottlieb predicts “a lot of death and disease” before end of the year as COVID cases rise

Washington — With the number of confirmed coronavirus cases continuing to rise in states across the country, Dr. Scott Gottlieb, the former commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration, warned that there is going to be “a lot of death and disease” from now until the end of 2020.

“We’re in a difficult situation heading into the fall,” Gottlieb said Sunday on “Face the Nation.” “I think the only caveat is in terms of us being better prepared for this wave, is that we have dramatically improved clinical care in hospitals. So I think we’re going to have better outcomes overall, but we’re still going to have a lot of death and disease between now and the end of the year.”

There have been more than 7.7 million confirmed cases of the coronavirus in the U.S., and 15 states have a positivity rate above 10%. Forty states have an expanding epidemic, Gottlieb said, and hospitalizations are also rising.

In looking ahead to how the country will fare in the weeks ahead, Gottlieb predicted the U.S. is “going to face a difficult fall and winter.”

“What we thought might be just a bump after Labor Day clearly is a resurgence in a virus heading into the fall and the winter,” he said. “You’re seeing cases build across the entire country.”

The coronavirus swept through the halls of the White House this month, as President Trump, first lady Melania Trump and at least two dozen people in the president’s orbit have tested positive for COVID-19. Mr. Trump spent three days at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center receiving treatment for the coronavirus, which included a dose of Regeneron’s antibody cocktail, which he has since heralded as a “cure” for the virus.

On Saturday, White House physician Dr. Sean Conley said the president is “no longer considered a transmission risk to others,” but did not specify whether Mr. Trump has tested negative for the coronavirus.

Gottlieb, however, said the president will likely not test negative for “a period of time.”

“We know that people continue to shed virus for a long period of time, but that’s dead virus,” he said. “It’s a virus that doesn’t grow in a culture, can’t really pass on the infection. There are indications that the president’s no longer infectious.”

Gottlieb added it’s safe to assume Mr. Trump is no longer contagious, as he has been symptom-free for several days and has not had a fever for more than 24 hours.

“I think the question now is, has his health been restored?” he said. “And we know that a lot of patients have lingering effects from COVID.”

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