Speaking during a webinar with the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention director, Dr. Robert Redfield, said he does not think reopening is “what’s driving the current Southern expansion right now.”
Redfield pointed to a spike in coronavirus cases around June 12-16.
“It all simultaneously kind of popped,” he said.
Redfield said this surge was independent of when states reopened to varying degrees across the region, “so we’re of the view that there was something else that was the driver,” he said. The CDC director said the potential spike could have been from travel during the Memorial Day weekend.
“A lot of Northerners decided to go south for vacations. The Southern groups had never really taken the mitigation steps that seriously, because they really didn’t have an outbreak,” he said.
Redfield’s comments come as surges in US cases have forced state and local officials to ponder more restrictions and, in some cases, consider a second round of shutdowns. More than half of US states have now halted or rolled back their reopening plans in hopes of preventing further spread.
In Houston, where hospitals are already overwhelmed with patients and hitting intensive care unit capacity, Mayor Sylvester Turner said Monday he proposed a two-week shutdown to the governor following a surge in cases.
“I do think we are going to need to shut down for a period of time. I am proposing two weeks, or at the very minimum, to return to phase one,” Turner said.