The Reopen Westport Advisory Team kicked off its first meeting this morning with a presentation by someone who knows as much about COVID-19 as anyone in the country: former FDA commissioner (and neighbor) Dr. Scott Gottlieb.
A frequent guest on news shows throughout the pandemic, the Westport resident spoke for more than half an hour — first presenting his own thoughts, then answering questions.
Dr. Gottlieb said:
Reopening the country is taking place against a backdrop of “much more spread than we initially expected.” However, the tri-state areas as seen “sustained reductions.”
When local communities open, they’ll face both opportunities and challenges. It helps that the weather is getting better. Outdoor activities are better than indoor ones. That includes not just restaurant seating, but even businesses that can move activities into parking lots and “onto Main Street” (he used the term generically, rather than specifically our own).
Businesses will want to show customers and clients that they are doing robust testing.
There may be less of a spread of COVID-19 this summer, but there is risk of a new outbreak — maybe even another epidemic — in the fall. The good news is, there will be better screening, robust testing, and some forms of treatment — perhaps even an experimental vaccine — then.
In terms of children, “we don’t know if millions of kids have had this yet, or hundreds.” There are two schools of thought: youngsters are not getting sick, or they are but show no symptoms. More and better testing will lead to a better understanding of risks of, say, opening summer camps and summer school so that parents can return to work.
Regarding the May 20 date of Phase One for the state’s reopening, Dr. Gottlieb said that although nationally we’re not where we wanted to be in terms of numbers of infections, “regionally we are. Connecticut has seen sustained declines. We may be at a low level of sustained infections.
“There will always be risks and transmissions. There may be a bump in new cases as we reopen. But people will move outside. People will be cautious. They won’t move around as much.”