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Infectious disease expert: 'We are going to see a growth in cases' in coming weeks

Columbia University infectious diseases expert Jeffrey Shaman predicted Sunday that the U.S. will see a growth in coronavirus cases in coming weeks as some states loosen restrictions.

Shaman said on NBC’s “Meet the Press” that Trump administration officials have not taken full advantage of the past eight weeks of near-total lockdowns, saying that the period would have “benefitted enormously from consistent messaging” from the White House. 

“We do need to start picking ourselves up where we are” he said, pointing to countries that appear to have successfully contained the spread of the virus, such as South Korea, Germany and New Zealand.

“They did this because they tested so aggressively and they used contact tracing and they were able to quarantine people who were becoming infectious,” he said.  “Once you’ve done that, then you’re in this position of strength where reopening the economy is not going to lead necessarily to the rebound in cases that I’m expecting, given this patchwork response that we have right now and the reopenings taking place in some states.”

“What I think we’re probably going to see over coming weeks, probably towards the end of the month, is we’re just going to start to see a growth in cases,” he added. “It’s not going to happen over the next week or two, it’s going to come in with a lag. That built-in delay means any changes we do to social distancing because of reopening, we’re not going to realize for a couple of weeks that we’re already into some period of growth.”

 

Multiple states have moved to reopen portions of their economy shuttered by state-at-home orders imposed to prevent the spread of coronavirus. 

The Labor Department reported last week that a record 20 million Americans lost their jobs in April amid the pandemic.