The wave of COVID-19 cases in the United States triggered by the highly contagious Omicron variant may be at a turning point, an infectious disease expert says.
Former FDA commissioner Dr. Scott Gottlieb says parts of the nation may be about to pass the peak phase of the outbreak, while other regions will likely soon be hit hard.
"f you look what's happening across the East Coast right now in New York City, Washington, DC, Maryland, probably Florida as well have already peaked, maybe Delaware and Rhode Island," Gottlieb said Sunday, Jan. 9 on CBS-TV's "Face the Nation."
"You start to see that in the statistics this week, you're gonna start to see those curves, those epidemic curves bend down. You're already seeing that in New York City and Washington DC."
But the Midwest could soon be hit hard, he noted.
"The risk right now is to the Midwest, where you have rising infection, where they aren't in the thick of their Omicron wave yet," he said. "And you have states that had high hospitalization rates going into this. They had a lot of Delta infection.
"They had been coming out of their Delta wave, so their hospital census was already high. And now they're seeing Omicron infections pick up. On the good side, hospitalizations are down relative to cases, but cases are up substantially, so it's pressing hospitals."
Gottlieb said that because Omicron is airborne, the CDC COVID guideline of 6 feet of social distancing may not apply to the variant.
"The reality is," Gottlieb said, "with an airborne illness like this, if you're in a setting, a confined saying that poor air circulation doesn't matter if you're 6 feet or 10 feet, you're going to be at risk of contracting it. And this isn't like radiation where you have a cumulative risk."
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