Ex-CDC director: 'No doubt' coronavirus 'has the upper hand'

Former Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) head Tom Frieden warned Sunday that despite an optimistic tone from the White House, there is “no doubt” the coronavirus “has the upper hand.”

Asked by Fox News’s Chris WallaceChristopher (Chris) WallaceYarmuth and Clyburn suggest .5T package may be slimmed Budget chairman: Debt ceiling fight 'a ridiculous position to be in' NIH director expects booster shots to be expanded, despite recommendation MORE about comments by Vice President Pence touting progress on the virus, Frieden responded: “There’s no doubt we’re doing more testing, our hospitals are better prepared, but there’s also no doubt the virus has the upper hand.”

“This virus is not going to go away on its own, we have to stop that, and only we can do that by working together,” he added. “We’re all sick and tired of staying home but the virus is not tired of making us sick.”

Frieden attributed the sharp increases in cases in several southern and western states to premature reopenings.

“If you open while cases are still increasing, as many states did, it’s like leaning into a left hook, you’re going to get hit hard,” he said.

“That’s why the three Ws are so important- wear a mask, wash your hands or use sanitizer, and watch your distance,” he added.

Frieden also urged Americans not to see mitigation measures as a drag on an economic recovery.

"Public health and health issues are not getting in the way of our recovery, they are the route to our recovery,” he said.

Asked by Wallace about the apparent decrease in death rates even as cases increase, Frieden said there were several possible explanations, including a lag of about a month until new cases progress to the point of death.

He added “the [new] cases do appear to be in younger people now, and the death rate is far, far lower in younger people than older.”

Wallace also asked Frieden about President TrumpDonald TrumpTexas announces election audit in four counties after Trump demand Schumer sets Monday showdown on debt ceiling-government funding bill Pennsylvania AG sues to block GOP subpoenas in election probe MORE’s frequent projections that a vaccine for the virus will be ready and available in the very near future, to which Frieden highlighted the need to ensure any such vaccine is safe and effective before widespread distribution.

“We can’t cut any corners, we have to make sure it’s safe, it’s effective, decide who’s going to get it first… this is not a quick fix,” he said.