The former acting director of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Dr. Richard Besser, expressed concern that cases of Covid-19 will start rising again as certain locations begin to gradually open up — because public health measures meant to control infection aren’t quite up to speed.
“I see some real danger signs for places like New York, New Jersey, Washington [DC],” he told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer on “The Situation Room” on Monday.
Besser’s comments come at a moment when New York City, Washington, DC, and the state of New Jersey enter phase two of reopening. They also coincide with the latest numbers that show 23 states have rising infection rates.
“Because as you reopen … you expect to see more cases. But what we’re hearing, in terms of the public health model — of testing people, through contact tracing, and then isolation and quarantine — it doesn’t sound like it’s working as well as it really needs to,” Besser said.
He said we’re not providing the services that people need to be able to isolate and quarantine safely.
“If you think about somebody who lives in a crowded household where they have elderly relatives, and they’re being told that they had contact with somebody who had Covid, or they have a Covid infection. If you’re not able to provide them with a safe place to isolate and quarantine, and provide them with economic support and help them in terms of their caregiving needs, people aren’t going to own up in terms of their exposures. And that’s going to lead to ongoing community transmission, and it’s going to lead to the pandemic hitting the same groups — Black Americans and Latinos — who’ve been hit so hard to date,” he said.
Besser served as acting director of the CDC for the first half of 2009. He is now president and CEO of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.