Gottlieb: Coronavirus outbreaks in southern, Sun Belt states could 'mount very quickly as we saw in New York'

Gottlieb: Coronavirus outbreaks in southern, Sun Belt states could 'mount very quickly as we saw in New York'
© getty: Former commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Scott Gottlieb

Former Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Scott Gottlieb warned Sunday that coronavirus outbreaks in several states, including Texas, Florida and Arizona, could overwhelm local health care systems if not properly handled.

“We’re seeing a resurgence in the south and the southeast, they really never got rid of their epidemics,” Gottlieb said on CBS’ “Face the Nation.” “A challenge that was once facing some regions of the country is now facing every region of the country, and the worry is they’re going to tip into exponential growth.”

“If you look at places like Arizona, the hospitals are getting pressed,” he added. “Midweek there was a report out of Arizona that about 40 percent of the hospital beds were filled with COVID patients. Texas and Florida still are reporting a lot of capacity even though Florida doesn’t report the total hospitalizations for COVID patients. These things can mount very quickly, as we saw in New York.”

“When the epidemic’s expanding, it’s always worse than what you’re measuring, and so there are a lot more cases in these states that are going to get turned over this coming week, given the rate of growth that we’ve seen,” he added. “We know that there’s community spread underway now in states like Florida, Texas, California, for that matter, and Arizona. Those are big states that have a lot of cases that have been building.”

Gottlieb also lamented the politicization of wearing masks.

“Masking has become controversial [but] it shouldn’t be. It’s a simple intervention, a collective action we can all take to help protect our fellow citizens and also to protect ourselves and reopen the economy safely,” he said.