Gottlieb links increase in hospitalizations to reopening

Scott Gottlieb, President TrumpDonald John TrumpUPS, FedEx shut down calls to handle mail-in ballots, warn of 'significant' problems: report Controversial GOP Georgia candidate attempts to distance from QAnon Trump orders TikTok parent company to sell US assets within 90 days MORE’s former commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration, on Tuesday pointed to the reopening of the economy as a link to an uptick in coronavirus hospitalizations.

“We now see a trend and an uptick in hospitalizations,” Gottlieb said in an appearance on CNBC. “It's a small uptick, but it is an uptick and it’s unmistakable, and it is probably a result of reopening.”

Experts say they expect increases in cases and hospitalizations as stay-at-home orders end and people interact with each other more. The size of those increases is not yet clear, and there is some hope the warmer summer weather could be a counterbalance and help slow the spread of the virus.

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“We're going to have to watch it, we expected this and the hope is that there's a seasonal effect here,” Gottlieb said. “And that seasonal effect will hopefully offset the increased social interaction, which is going to cause cases to go up, so as we get into July and August things will start to either level off or go down. But we are going to see cases go up as we reopen the economy and our social lives.”

Gottlieb pointed to Florida, Georgia, Virginia, Alabama, Maryland, Mississippi, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Ohio and Arizona as seeing an uptick in hospitalizations. 

“And in the national trend there's a small uptick,” he said. 

The comments illustrate the muddled period the United States is entering, where cases have fallen from their peak nationally but the virus is still circulating significantly as states reopen.

Every state has allowed at least some nonessential businesses to reopen and has reduced some other restrictions. 

Gottlieb did warn that people should keep practicing social distancing as the public waits for a vaccine.

“I’m concerned there are people who think this is the all-clear, and I think what we really need to be doing is defining a new normal,” he said. “We’re going to need to live differently until we get a vaccine.”