Public health expert: US 'near the end of the beginning' of pandemic

Public health expert: US 'near the end of the beginning' of pandemic
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Tom Inglesby, director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, said Sunday that the U.S. was likely at the “end of the beginning” of the coronavirus pandemic but said Vice President Pence’s prediction of reaching the end stages of the crisis by Memorial Day was overly optimistic.

“I would say we are maybe near the end of the beginning of the pandemic in this country … we have a plateau in new cases per day. Unfortunately, it’s a very high plateau,” Inglesby told Fox News’ Chris WallaceChristopher (Chris) WallaceDC delegate: Congress took up police reform due to 'impatience in the streets' Activist: Stop vilifying protesters and try to understand why they are fighting Ex-CDC director: 'No doubt' coronavirus 'has the upper hand' MORE on “Fox News Sunday.” “We are not out of the woods by any means but at least we’ve reached a stable number of new infections.”

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Asked by Wallace about Pence’s Memorial Day prediction, Inglesby was skeptical.

“If you go state by state you see that in about half of the country the numbers are still rising day to day, about another third there seems to be a leveling off and in a minority of the country the numbers are going down day by day … I don’t think it’s likely we will be in that position by Memorial Day.”

Pence on Thursday told Fox News' Geraldo Rivera that "by Memorial Day Weekend we will largely have this coronavirus epidemic behind us."

“State and local officials will begin to reopen activities, you’re going to see states ahead here begin to do that,” he said.

A number of states have begun allowing or are planning to allow some businesses to reopen this week with certain safety guidelines, such as wearing masks and implementing social distancing measures, in place. 

“Some things are safer than others,” Inglesby said. "Businesses that have small numbers of people are probably safer than businesses that have large numbers of people.”

He added outdoor spaces will likely be safer than indoor ones.

“There’s going to be a range of different risks that people can face,” he added.

Asked if he personally would get a haircut from someone wearing a mask, Inglesby responded “I think at this point in most places in the country with the rate of illness as it is, I don’t think so.” 

He said current testing capacity is not sufficient to find mild or asymptomatic cases, though those individuals can still transmit the virus to others.

“Until we get that under control we’re going to continue to have lines of transmission that we can’t see,” he said.