The seven-day average of new cases has been creeping closer to the previous peak of the pandemic of 67,200 cases on July 22. The past week saw a new record with an average of 68,767 new cases every day.
“We’re entering what’s going to be the steep slope of the curve, of the epidemic curve,” Gottlieb told CBS’s Margaret Brennan on “Face the Nation.”
Though cases are surging across the country, Gottlieb said things are going to start looking worse over the next two or three weeks. He said he doesn’t foresee the implementation of forceful policy intervention that could curb the spread.
“If we don’t do that, if we miss this window, this is going to continue to accelerate and it’s going to be more difficult to get under control,” he said.
A national mask mandate could be a necessary inconvenience
“A mandate can be expressly limited to the next two months,” Gottlieb wrote, adding that it’s easier to wear a mask in the winter than the summer. “The inconvenience would allow the country to preserve health-care capacity and keep more schools and businesses open.”
With deaths expected to rise this winter, policymakers will have to make moves to slow the spread, Gottlieb wrote. There already is no support for reinstating the stay-at-home orders from the spring.
If 95% of Americans wore masks in public, more than 100,000 lives could be saved in the United States through February, according to data released Friday by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington.
“If people are not wearing masks, then maybe we should be mandating it,” Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told CNN’s Erin Burnett on Friday.
Gottlieb wrote the concern about needing fines to enforce the mandate leading to confrontations with police isn’t necessarily true.
“States should be able to choose how to enforce a mandate, but the goal should be to make masks a social and cultural norm, not a political statement,” he wrote. “Mandating masks has become divisive only because it was framed that way by some politicians and commentators.”
State leaders back on guard
No state is currently reporting above a 10% improvement in coronavirus cases in the last week compared to the week before. And as the