Gottlieb, nominated by President Donald Trump who led the FDA from 2017 to 2019, warned that because these public protests generally included large numbers of young people, many of whom are more likely to appear asymptomatic even if they are contagious, those exposed to the coronavirus during a demonstration could have no idea.
“This increases the risk of asymptomatic spread within these gatherings,” Gottlieb told the Skullduggery Yahoo News podcast.
He cautioned against developing a false sense of security in outdoor spaces and said protesters should seek “high quality masks” while practicing social distancing as much as possible – even in the crowd.
“There is always a risk because you gather large groups of people and the risk is going to be correlated with the base rate in the population,” said Gottlieb. “I think we are going to see some chains of transmission light up from these rallies, and we have to understand that. ”
Gottlieb said he was concerned about “disturbing trends even before the events of last week.” He said there are currently about 25,000 new infections diagnosed daily. About 1,000 Americans die from the virus every day. Gottlieb said that even though he expects this number to be halved soon, he thinks he will hit a plateau at around 500.
Gottlieb said if overall infection rate stays where it is or accelerates over summer when country reopens, Americans will return to school and work in September, vulnerable to coronavirus resurgence by the time the seasonal flu starts to circulate.
“It’s a lot of risk to take in the fall for a second wave, and that’s what worries me – that we’ve never really crushed the infection, we’ve got this slow burn throughout the ‘Summer, and that prepares us for a very difficult fall COVID / flu season,’ said Gottlieb.
Gottlieb was accompanied by Dr. Kavita Patel, Yahoo medical associate and non-resident fellow at the Brookings Institution. The two doctors said additional infections could result from mass rallies of protesters protesting police violence against black Americans.
While the two doctors said the Americans should remain vigilant, including wearing masks, the two did not say that people should not protest. Patel said more than 1,200 leading public health and medical workers have signed an open letter released on Friday urging officials not to use the pandemic as an excuse to stop the protests. She called the letter an expression of the overwhelming frustration of public health and medical professionals. ”
“White supremacy is a deadly public health problem that predates and contributes to COVID-19,” said the letter.
Patel said protesters need to think carefully about the risks of transmission based on their personal circumstances.
“If you protest, even in a safe environment, and do everything you can, if you are in a household where you are at risk or if you fear that you have come into contact with a person at risk, which is a lot crowded, you have to do your best to get tested five to seven days later or at least isolate yourself, “said Patel.
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