September 3, 2021

Former FDA commissioner Scott Gottlieb was on Morning Joe today to talk about what we can expect from delta now.

"Dr. Gottlieb, let me ask you about the state of Florida. We saw a new high for deaths yesterday, but we spoke yesterday on the show to the head of a hospital system who says hospitalizations are coming down. What do you read into the case of Florida? Do you believe in some ways that maybe the South is beginning to peak with this delta variant?" Willie Geist asked.

"Yeah, I think the south has peaked and I think what you're seeing in states like Florida and Arkansas right now is an extended plateau, not a sharp down," Gottlieb said.

"When you look at the data, cases are declining week over week in every age category except children, 5 to 19. You're seeing outbreaks in the schools right now course through the population and that's extending the peak into a plateau right now. I think once the infection courses through the schools, tragically and unfortunately, I think at that point you'll see a decline."

He said the fact that hospitalizations are down is a sign means delta has "probably" run its course in the older, more vulnerable population.

"That said, pediatric hospitalizations are starting to increase because you're seeing the cases in the schools. But the outbreaks in the schools right now are dense and the infection is going to run its course there, too."

Geist said this was expected "because you have a population of children who can't get vaccinated all flowing back to schools in the South, but also across the country now."

"What is your recommendation to a parent right now who's concerned about sending their kid back into a school, what are some of the mitigation efforts until that vaccine is available for kids younger than 12, how should parents think about school?"

"We're facing a period of time when the delta variant is going to course its way through the population. I don't think this is going to be in perpetuity, certainly not at this level, so it's prudent to take precautions over the next couple of months while the delta variant moves through the population.

"I think children should be wearing masks in schools, schools should be implementing other mitigation, like social pods, encourage testing and children staying at home if they have symptoms of covid and get testing. A lot of districts are using screening testing effectively on a weekly or biweekly basis. so there's a lot of things we can be doing.

"We're going to see infection levels decline across the South. We're seeing it now, the South probably peaked a couple weeks ago. The risk as you see the delta variant wave move to other parts of the country, the North and Northeast. I think there's a perception we had our delta wave in the Northeast, I don't think that's the case. You've seen it go up and come down in the metropolitan region, I don't think that was our true wave.

"We're in for our true wave picking up after Labor Day after kids go back to school. So we have a wave ahead of us," he concluded.

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