U.S. could have ‘some semblance of normalcy’ this summer if careful

Dr. Scott Gottlieb told CNBC on Friday that Americans could have “some semblance of normalcy” in the coming months, as long as certain precautions around the coronavirus continue to be taken. 

“I think if we’re all careful this summer we can take a breather and get back to some semblance of normalcy,” Gottlieb said on “Squawk Box.” “Now we can’t be complacent coming off the summer, heading into the fall, when the risk is going to be very different.” 

Gottlieb, a former commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration, laid out examples of the strategies people should employ: go to the store less, practice good hygiene when out and reduce the size of one’s social circle. 

“That could have a big distributed effect,” Gottlieb said, referencing a study he read “that basically showed, if people just shop one day a week less, that can have a big impact, if they’re coming into contact with other people just a little less on the margins.” 

Gottlieb, a CNBC contributor who sits on the boards of Pfizer and biotech company Illumina, said the risk of contracting Covid-19 is most present when people are in continuous close contact indoors. He said that is why people who work at meatpacking plants and on factory floors, without proper protective equipment, have been vulnerable to infection. 

“Any place you’re in an indoor setting, and you’re in contact with people for a sustained period of time, that is the conditions under which this spread,” the physician said. 

Gottlieb has previously contended it would be wise to move more activities and events outside in the summer. Some cities are doing that by allowing restaurants to more easily expand outdoor dining, for example. Many experts believe transmission of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes Covid-19, is less prevalent outdoors if proper precautions are taken, such as social distancing and wearing a face covering. 

States across the U.S. are easing their coronavirus-related limits on business, allowing retailers and restaurants to reopen at reduced capacity or with other precautions in place. There is worry among public health officials that relaxing restrictions too soon could lead to more cases of Covid-19. 

Gottlieb and others, such as White House health advisor Dr. Anthony Fauci, have also warned that the U.S. could experience a second wave of cases in the fall and winter months. 

“I’m very worried about fall when we come back but I’m hopeful that infections start to break off later in the summer,” Gottlieb said last week. 

There are more than 1.5 million confirmed cases of Covid-19 in the U.S., according to data from Johns Hopkins University. At least 94,729 people have died in the country. 

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