These States May Be "Past the Point" of Controlling COVID-19, Doctor Says
The former head of the FDA says "simple interventions" might not be enough to turn things around.
It seems like every day we are seeing a record number of new cases of coronavirus reported in multiple states around the country. Some states have experienced spikes so concerning that medical experts have said a return to lockdown might be the only viable solution to turn things around. And according to one expert, this is looking more and more like the only option in places like Florida, Arizona, and Texas—all of which have been regularly reporting record highs in new cases and hospitalizations since reopening.
"They might be past the point that they can control this just with simple interventions like trying to get more people to wear masks and people being mindful of their social interactions," former Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, MD, told CNBC on June 22.
Gottlieb added that due to increased testing, the coming days would reveal just how serious the growth rate of new cases is in each of these states. "I think this week's going to really be a pivotal week for us to get a picture of where things are heading in states like Florida and Arizona and Texas, whether or not they're tipping over into exponential growth or not," Gottlieb said. Read on for specifics about where these three states stand. And for more problem areas in the U.S., check out 5 States That Are "Losing Control" of Coronavirus, Doctor Says.
According to the Houston Chronicle, in addition to reporting more than 3,800 new cases on June 21, Texas health officials said COVID-19 hospitalizations reached record highs over the weekend. In certain urban areas like Houston, where new cases are rising at a particularly rapid pace, local officials have instituted mask mandates to help slow the spread. Though, at least one expert shares Gottlieb's opinion that the effort may be too little too late. Based on current trends in the state, vaccine researcher Peter Hotez, MD, PhD, a professor and dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine, told the Chronicle that masks likely "won't be enough." And for more states that are seeing an uptick in severe cases of coronavirus, check out 6 States That Are Running Out of Hospital Beds.
While state officials in Florida initially pointed to increased testing as the main driver of new cases spiking, it seems they are growing less confident in that actually being the case. Florida reported an additional 2,926 new positive cases on June 21, and while that is a slight decrease from previous days, CNBC reported that Gov. Ron DeSantis recently confirmed that the portion of people testing positive is accelerating faster than the number of tests being run. The percentage of people in Florida testing positive for the virus rose from about 4.2 percent on June 7 to more than 8 percent on June 14, according to the Florida Department of Health. And to learn how many people health experts expect to die from coronavirus in the coming weeks, check out This Is How Many More Americans the CDC Predicts Will Die by Mid-July.
In Arizona, the testing positivity rate has shown a similar rise as the one seen in Florida. The southwest state has also been reporting more than 2,000 new cases per day for about a week—including 2,196 on June 22. According to Gottlieb, the key statistic to monitor in the coming days in Arizona, as well as any other state where cases are spiking, is the doubling rate—essentially, how long it takes for the number of new cases cases to double in quantity. And for more up-to-date information, sign up for our free daily newsletter.