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COVID-19 Hospitalizations Will Rise as States Loosen Restrictions, Ex-FDA Chief Warns

States will see a rise in coronavirus hospitalizations because of their loosening of restrictions in an effort to get back to normal life, the former Food and Drug Administration commissioner said Tuesday.

“We now see a trend in an uptick in hospitalizations,” Dr. Scott Gottlieb, the former FDA chief, said on CNBC’s “Squawk Box.” “It’s a small uptick, but it is an uptick and it’s unmistakable and it is probably a result of reopening. We are going to have to watch it.”

Hospitalizations are a key indicator for epidemiologists attempting to understand the nature of the COVID-19 outbreak. However, hospitalizations are likely a lagging indicator of the underlying reality of the disease because it can take weeks for people to become infected, develop symptoms, get tested, receive test results and become ill enough to be admitted to a hospital.

“We expected cases to go up and hospitalizations to bump up when we reopened and I was talking to a lot of states about their plans and they were expecting that there was going to be an uptick,” Gottlieb said. “That’s why they all implemented very staged reopenings where they reopened in phases and then reassessed the data to make sure that any increase wasn’t an inordinate increase.”

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