Washington — Former Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Dr. Scott Gottlieb predicted Sunday that by the time President-elect Joe Biden is inaugurated in January, the nation will be at the apex of the latest wave of the coronavirus pandemic.
“The reality is that by the time the president-elect takes office, we’ll probably be at the sort of apex, if you will, of what we’re going through right now,” Gottlieb said in an interview with “Face the Nation.” “You know, this is going to play out over the next couple of months, and I think as the president takes office, we’ll be coming down the other side of the epidemic curve, hopefully. The only question is going to be how many people have died in the course of this and how many people have been infected, and we have to keep those numbers down as much as possible.”
Coronavirus cases in the United States are surging in many states, with the number of infections nearing 10 million and the death toll at more than 237,000. In Wisconsin and Utah, officials are building field hospitals, while El Paso has built a fourth mobile morgue. With more than 56,000 people hospitalized and 11,000 in the ICU, Gottlieb predicted the nation will see a record number of hospitalizations this week.
In anticipation of assuming the presidency while the coronavirus pandemic rages on, Mr. Biden is set to announce a COVID-19 task force Monday that will come up with a blueprint for responding to the pandemic.
Gottlieb suggested Mr. Biden and his team also work with governors to create a national strategy for addressing the pandemic while President Trump is still in power, and said his administration can ensure there are adequate supplies of drugs and testing equipment once they are in office.
With the inauguration set to take place January 20 in Washington, D.C., it’s likely the country will still be battling the coronavirus. As a result, Gottlieb predicted the event will not draw the large crowds it typically does, especially given Mr. Biden’s actions during the campaign to limit large gatherings and alter his activities to limit the spread of the virus.
“We’re going to be right in the thick of probably the worst point of this epidemic wave that we’re going through right now,” he said. “And you know the Biden campaign, the Biden team, have shown that they’re willing to forgo the usual trappings of running for office so that they don’t expose people unnecessarily. I suspect they’re going to take a similar approach to how they handle the inauguration.”