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the coronavirus crisis

Former FDA commissioner says U.S. may be unable to decrease coronavirus transmission much more

Former Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Scott Gottlieb believes the United States may not be able to reduce coronavirus transmission much more, saying we should prepare for a "new normal."

Gottlieb spoke with Today on Tuesday as many states allow some nonessential businesses to begin reopening and after a key model that's been cited by the White House significantly raised its projected death toll from COVID-19 to almost 135,000 by early August.

"We still have a high level of infection in this country," Gottlieb said. "We've reached a plateau, but we haven't seen the kind of declines that we were expecting to see at this point. And as we start to reopen the country, cases are likely to go up, not down."

Gottlieb went on to suggest that as cases continue to rise in many states, the country may not be able to lower the rate of infection much further.

"I think that we need to understand, this may be the new normal," he said. "We may not be able to get transmission down much more. I hope we can."

Gottlieb expanded on this in a Twitter thread, in which he wrote that "we need to prepare to deal with covid as a persistent threat," including by protecting those who are most vulnerable and being "prepared with case-based interventions, and widespread screening, to slow the transmission."

On Monday, The New York Times reported that the Trump administration is privately forecasting that the U.S. daily coronavirus death toll will reach 3,000 by June 1, up from about 1,750, as well as 200,000 new cases a day by the end of the month, up from about 25,000. Brendan Morrow