Watch: Dr. Scott Gottlieb Warns of 'No Backstop' on Developing COVID Surge, Urges Mask Policies

Posted: Oct 27, 2020 10:35 AM

Coronavirus cases and hospitalizations are spiking across the pond and the country. Some states are getting nervous about hospital bed capacity being insufficient as we move deeper into colder weather. To say that we aren't out of the woods yet is an understatement -- even in spite of some heartening news, which we'll mention below. First, here's the former Trump-era chief of the FDA, Dr. Scott Gottlieb, sounding the alarm about what's coming and what can realistically be done to mitigate the new COVID wave that's building and cresting:

The data is looking scarier:

Gottlieb, a credible and serious source on these matters, has an op/ed in the Wall Street Journal arguing that renewed stay-at-home orders are likely untenable, while practically begging leaders to impose temporary mask-wearing requirements as a minimally intrusive but helpful measure:

Consider hospitalizations, which reached 42,000 on Saturday, up from 30,000 a month ago. This increase comes even as hospital admission criteria have become more stringent, with more patients managed at home...Total hospitalizations, which are on pace to eclipse totals from the spring, are an objective measure of a rampant epidemic. As deaths rise this winter, policy makers will have to take new steps to slow the rate of spread. There is no support for reprising this spring’s stay-at-home orders. It will be essential to use standard interventions, including limits on crowded settings such as bars and continuing to test and trace contacts. But on the current trajectory these measures won’t be enough to keep hospitals from being overwhelmed in some areas. Masks would help. As a practical matter, it’s easier to wear a mask in the winter than the summer. A mandate can be expressly limited to the next two months. The inconvenience would allow the country to preserve health-care capacity and keep more schools and businesses open. Studies show widespread use of masks can reduce spread. But even if masks are only incrementally helpful, they are among the least economically costly and burdensome options for reducing spread.

And as Gottlieb explained in the same CBS News interview embedded above, not all masks are created equal:

The current challenges are serious and worsening. This virus is highly contagious. But not everything is doom and gloom. The lethality of the disease has been cut down significantly since the spring, as medical professionals have learned, adapted, and improved treatments. One new study "finds that mortality has dropped among hospitalized patients by 18 percentage points since the pandemic began. Patients in the study had a 25.6% chance of dying at the start of the pandemic; they now have a 7.6% chance." This is obviously very good news. As is the very real progress on vaccines thanks to Operation Warp Speed (irresponsible fear-mongering by politicians and some in the news media notwithstanding), at least one of which will hopefully and realistically be approved within weeks. And the data continues to show the overwhelming safety of in-person learning, despite what some major teachers' unions may prefer to believe:

I'll leave you with a sobering reminder that lockdowns and other extreme mitigation measures are having very serious impacts on people's well being -- including mental and physical health:

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