This Is What You're Getting Wrong About Reopening, Expert Says

The Former FDA Chief says that outbreaks were not the result of states reopening too early.

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We've come a long way since the coronavirus pandemic first hit American soil hard in March. Recently, a handful of hotspot states have gotten their outbreaks under control, while others have been cautioned to return to lockdown. Though everyone is ready to get back to some kind of normal life, reopening plans take time and patience to ensure that COVID-19 doesn't spike again. You've likely heard officials say over and over that states that reopened too early were the source of recent surges in COVID cases. But that's not quite accurate, according to Scott Gottlieb, MD, former commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). He says it isn't the timing of reopening per se, but the speed at which it's done that causes coronavirus cases to rise.

"I think the issue is more the speed of the reopening and how you reopened," Gottlieb said in a recent interview with American Enterprise Institute (AEI), a public policy think tank where he is a resident fellow. "You could have reopened early but reopened more deliberately and left certain things shut [down] along a period of time."

Gottlieb pointed to bars as one business that reopened too quickly, along with casinos and other popular gathering spots. "Should we have reopened bars? No, we shouldn't have," Gottlieb said. "We should keep certain indoor congress settings that are purely for entertainment closed in perpetuity until we can figure out whether we have control."

people cheering with beer in bar with illness prevention protection measures are taken
iStock

This concern echoes that of Anthony Fauci, MD, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), who has continuously cautioned about the high risks of crowded and poorly ventilated areas like restaurants and bars. He suggested in a July interview with InStyle that states seeing surges "pause in the opening and maybe even take a step back in our phases," such as closing bars.

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Gottlieb said state and federal policies should focus on getting essential businesses and operations back up and running before trying to rebuild the hospitality and entertainment industries.

"The priority should be trying to open the schools and do other things that are more important from a social standpoint," he said. And for more risks to be aware of, check out 24 Things You're Doing Every Day That Put You at COVID Risk.

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