Leading public health expert says the United States has not come out of the woods in the coronavirus pandemic

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Tom Inglesby, director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, said on Sunday that the United States was “near the end of the beginning” of the coronavirus pandemic, but remained skeptical of Vice President Pence’s previous assertion that which the country would spend the worst epidemic on Memorial Day.

“I would say that we are, for lack of better words, perhaps near the end of the start of this pandemic in this country,” Inglesby said in an interview with “Fox News Sunday”. “We have reached a national plateau at this point. I mean the trends can change over time, but at this point we have a plateau of new cases per day.

He added: “Unfortunately, this is a very high plateau. “

Last week, Pence seemed optimistic about the US’s chances of quickly overcoming the pandemic – saying he thought the epidemic could “largely” be “behind us” by Memorial Day Weekend.

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“If you look at the trends today, I think by the Memorial Day weekend, we will have this coronavirus epidemic largely behind us,” said Pence, chair of the coronavirus task force. the White House, to Geraldo Rivera of Fox News. “National and local authorities will start to reopen their activities; you’ll see states ahead of time here start doing that. “

Inglesby, however, did not share Pence’s optimism – pointing to the continued growth in the number of new cases as evidence that “we have not come out of the woods by any means, in terms of this pandemic.”

“At this point, if you go state by state, you see in about half of the country, the numbers keep increasing day by day, and in about another third of the country, there seems to be stabilization, and only in a minority of the country, the numbers are decreasing day by day. So I don’t think it’s likely we’ll be in this position by Memorial Day. “

He added, “But more importantly, wherever we are in the epidemic, this virus will be with us until we have a vaccine. “

Some states are taking quick action to get businesses started as quickly as possible. Georgia’s Republican Governor Brian Kemp reopened some businesses in the state on Friday, including gymnasiums, hair salons and nail salons.

President Trump said on Wednesday that he “strongly disagreed” with Kemp’s decision to reopen so soon, saying his plan was “in violation of the Phase 1 guidelines” that the administration has set out.

Trump recently announced the White House’s three-part plan to begin the reopening process, which recommends 14 days of new declining infections, as well as 14 days of COVID-like syndromic cases and flu-like illness, before moving on. at the reopening phase Kemp asked.

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Other states like Florida have already reopened parks and beaches. A number of states have announced a gradual reopening starting in early May.

Inglesby said that while nowhere is completely safe due to the ease of transmission of the virus, some places will be better than others when it comes to infection risks.

“We can say that some things are safer than others, and companies that have a small number of people are probably safer than companies that have a very large number of people, and proximity to interaction, which is also a factor. So if people are going to interact closely, they should use personal protective equipment if it is available in their state.

He added, “Outside, it will be safer than inside. So there will be a range of different risks that businesses will face. “

Morgan New of Fox Phillips contributed to this report.

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