Former CDC chief: Recent spike in COVID-19 cases won’t lead to shutdowns


A former acting Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) director said on Sunday that he does not believe that the recent surge of COVID-19 cases will lead to massive shutdowns throughout the country, though he acknowledged some schools may close. 

“In terms of the COVID challenge we’re seeing now, with hospitalizations up, infections up, how bad do you believe this is going to get? Is it going to get to the level where we’re going to have to see, once again, shutdowns, restaurants closing, the economy essentially grinding to a halt? Is it going to get to that level again?” guest host Jonathan Karl asked Richard Besser on ABC’s “This Week.”

“I don’t think so, Jon. I think what we’re going to see is schools closing when cases spread through schools. We’re going to see more recommendations for use of masks,” Besser, who served as acting CDC director in 2009 and is president and CEO of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, replied.

“The reason it’s not going to be the same as it was early in the pandemic is that there is a vaccine, and we have done a very good job at vaccinating people who are at the greatest risk, so elderly people, people with underlying medical conditions, front-line health care workers,” he continued.

Besser also said there has to be “a full-on press to get people vaccinated who aren’t vaccinated.”

“That’s what’s going to do the most. But it’s not going to be the same kind of situation that we saw a year ago,” he added.

The United States has seen a wave of new COVID-19 cases as the delta variant spreads among unvaccinated populations in the U.S. Officials had been optimistic earlier this year that the vaccine rollout could reduce new waves of infections. But the delta variant and resistance from some communities to get the vaccine have complicated efforts to mitigate the virus.

National Institutes of Health (NIH) Director Francis Collins said on “Fox News Sunday” that he would not be surprised if the country started to see at least 200,000 daily new COVID-19 cases in the next few weeks. 

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