Story at a glance

  • Gottlieb spoke on CNBC saying the declining rates of transmission indicate the outbreaks in southern states have likely peaked.
  • He noted children under the age of 18 are responsible for new infections in Florida due to school reopenings.
  • The 14-day change in cases is up by 36 percent — well below recent figures.

The worst of the delta variant outbreaks for southern U.S. states may be over, according to former U.S Food and Drug Administration (FDA) director Scott Gottlieb.

Speaking as a CNBC contributor on Squawk Box, Gottlieb referenced decreasing rates of transmission in hotspot states.

On a day-to-day basis, new infections are being reported nationwide, especially in comparison to the early summer months. The peak of the most recent outbreak, however, may have recently reached its peak as new cases come in at a lower rate. 


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“I think it’s pretty clear right now the South has peaked,” he said on Monday. “There’s very clear evidence...you look at states like Arkansas and Louisiana, you see the cases coming down.”

He added that the rate of transmission for other southern states hit hard by the delta variant, namely Florida, is finally beginning to decline. This trend is apparent for all age groups, except for younger children, who are driving new cases. 

Gottlieb attributes this to schools restarting in an in-person setting. He also noted that the delta variant is “far more contagious” than other COVID-19 strains.  

“This outbreak is probably infecting more kids than what we’ve seen in the past epidemic surges,” he said. 


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Gottlieb noted that it isn’t evident yet that the delta variant is more dangerous than older COVID-19 strains despite the resurgence of hospitalizations. 

He referenced the state rates of transmission on covidestim.org, which shows lower rate of virus transmission than seen in weeks prior. Missouri, for instance, was one of the states dealing with a surge in delta-driven infections, represented by a rate of transmission at 1.30 in early July — a unit of measurement that describes the average number of people who will be infected by another individual. 

Now, as of Aug. 22, the rate has fallen to 0.79.

National data analyzed by the New York Times also suggests a slowly declining rate of transmission. New cases are up by 36 percent over the last two weeks, much lower than the 140-percent increases seen in mid-July.


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Published on Aug 23, 2021