Gottlieb sees Thanksgiving as “inflection point” for accelerating pandemic

Washington — With coronavirus infections spiking in more than three dozen states, Dr. Scott Gottlieb, the former commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), predicted Sunday that the Thanksgiving holiday will be an “inflection point” for the pandemic.

“Things are getting worse around the country,” Gottlieb said in an interview with “Face the Nation.” “I think Thanksgiving is really going to be an inflection point. I think December is probably going to be our toughest month.”

Gottlieb, who led the FDA under President Trump, said spread of the virus is accelerating in 23 states, including across the Midwest and the Great Lakes region, while 15 states have a positivity rate above 10%. There is an expanding epidemic in all 50 states, he said.

“This is very worrisome as we head into the winter,” Gottlieb said, adding that “as we get into the next two or three weeks, it’s going to be unmistakable what’s happening around the country. And we’re going to have to start taking tough steps.”

Public health experts and doctors in the Trump administration have warned for weeks Americans should brace themselves for a difficult winter, but Mr. Trump has claimed the country is “rounding the turn.” During a rally in Michigan on Friday, the president claimed without evidence that doctors are profiting off deaths from COVID-19.

“You know, our doctors get more money if somebody dies from COVID. You know that, right?” Mr. Trump alleged. “I mean, our doctors are very smart people. So what they do is they say, ‘I’m sorry, but, you know, everybody dies of COVID.'”

Gottlieb said it’s “troubling” for Mr. Trump to suggest doctors are manipulating data to get higher reimbursements. He noted the CARES Act, which the president signed into law in March, provides more money for COVID-pneumonia cases because it’s more expensive to treat those patients in hospitals.

“Any doctor that would be documenting COVID-pneumonia in a case where the patient doesn’t have pneumonia, that’s fraud,” he said.

When asked where Mr. Trump might have heard such a claim, Gottlieb said it’s unlikely he came up with the allegation on his own.

“Unfortunately I think there [are] probably advisers telling him that,” he said.

There have been more than 9.1 million coronavirus cases in the U.S., and the death toll surpassed 230,000, according to Johns Hopkins University. The economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic also continues, with more than 22 million Americans currently receiving jobless aid, according to the Department of Labor.

The White House and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, meanwhile, remain at an impasse over another coronavirus relief package. But Gottlieb said it’s crucial for Mr. Trump to focus on supplying aid to the states in his second term, if he wins reelection.

“They have to get a stimulus passed. They’ve got to get funding out to states to try to deal with this,” he said. “I think we need to focus on what we’re going to prioritize in terms of trying to keep things open and get

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Covid cases, hospitalizations continue to surge as U.S. reaches ‘critical point’ in pandemic

  • Three dozen states reported that the average number of people currently hospitalized with Covid-19 rose by at least 5% over the past week.
  • “We are at another critical point in the pandemic response,” said Adm. Brett Giroir, assistant secretary of health who leads the government’s testing effort.
  • Giroir went on to emphasize that “we can control the virus” by following public health measures like social distancing, mask wearing, avoiding crowded gatherings and the frequent washing of hands.



a group of people standing around a plane: Emergency Medical Technicians (EMT) arrive with a correctional patient at North Shore Medical Center where the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) patients are treated, in Miami, Florida, U.S. July 14, 2020.


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Emergency Medical Technicians (EMT) arrive with a correctional patient at North Shore Medical Center where the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) patients are treated, in Miami, Florida, U.S. July 14, 2020.

The United States is reporting another record-high average number of new cases of the coronavirus as a top health official warned Wednesday that the country is at a “critical point.”

The U.S. reported 73,240 new cases on Tuesday, bringing the seven-day average of new cases up to about 71,832, a fresh record and an increase of more than 20% compared with a week ago, according to a CNBC analysis of data collected by Johns Hopkins University.

Three dozen states reported that the average number of people currently hospitalized with Covid-19 rose by at least 5% over the past week, according to data from the Covid Tracking Project, which tracks testing, hospitalization and other data on the outbreak. Cases are up by at least that amount in 45 states, according to Hopkins data.

“As the nation did after Memorial Day, we are at another critical point in the pandemic response,” Adm. Brett Giroir, assistant secretary of health who leads the government’s testing effort, said Wednesday on the TODAY show. “Cases are going up in most states across the country. Hospitalizations are up, although we’re still tens of thousands of hospitalizations below where we were in July, but that is rising. And we are starting to see the increase in deaths.”



chart, histogram


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Giroir acknowledged that increased testing alone cannot explain the surge in cases, even as President Donald Trump attributes the surge to testing alone and continues to downplay the outbreak.

Giroir went on to emphasize that “we can control the virus” by following public health measures like social distancing, mask wearing, avoiding crowded gatherings and the frequent washing of hands.

The surge in cases and hospitalizations is beginning to overwhelm some hospitals in parts of the country. The Salt Lake Tribune reported over the weekend that the Utah Hospital Association is asking the governor to allow them to ration care. And in Texas, El Paso County Judge Ricardo Samaniego issued a curfew on Sunday to protect “overwhelmed and exhausted” hospitals and workers.

Public health specialists and epidemiologists have warned for months that the virus would likely surge as the weather turned colder in the fall and winter. That’s largely because people are more likely to stay indoors in colder weather and because some epidemiologists believe the virus can spread more easily through colder, drier air.

Dr. Bill

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Europe at ‘turning point’ vs. COVID

GENEVA (AP) — Europe is at a “turning point” in the fight against the coronavirus, the head of Switzerland’s biggest hospital complex said, acknowledging growing public fatigue over anti-COVID measures but insisting people must buckle down as Switzerland grapples with record daily case counts.

Bertrand Levrat, CEO of Geneva University Hospitals, which counts 12,000 personnel, spoke to The Associated Press at a time when Switzerland — like many other European countries — is fighting a second wave of coronavirus cases that grew in large part out of a summertime lull in which people let down their guard about the highly infectious pandemic.

“The virus doesn’t spread alone — we are the ones who spread it. It’s a line that we don’t repeat enough,” Levrat said from his office overlooking Geneva, a surgical mask tucked into his jacket pocket. “Today, the stakes center on how much people are going to follow health measures that allow most people, and economies, and life in general to get through this.”

He added: “If we don’t get a handle on this, we run the risk of getting into a situation that’s harder to control,” he said. “We are really at a turning point — things can go both ways. Health services need to look for ways to keep up contact tracing (and) to succeed in getting a grasp on the chains of transmission.”

Swiss authorities, like their counterparts across Europe, are facing the increasingly tricky dilemma of calibrating a response that meets the urgent health care requirements at a time of growing public fatigue about COVID-19 restrictions and when doctors, nurses and other medical personnel are already beleaguered and dreading a new wave that would strain their work and personal lives.

“I think we are quite well prepared, even though it was a huge challenge to every one of us, and huge stress on the system,” Levrat said. “Yes, we are prepared but, yes as well, we are worried a bit because it’s a challenge … with teams that have been quite exhausted by the first wave.”


During that first phase, the hospital had a peak of 550 patients at the same time — all COVID patients. Other medical services were farmed out to private clinics. Today, hospitalizations are at more than 70, but that marks a four-fold increase from just a month ago.

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