CDC Director: 'I Think... We Are Nearing the Peak' of Coronavirus Cases

By Susan Jones | April 13, 2020 | 10:38am EDT
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Director Dr. Robert Redfield (Photo by ANDREW CABALLERO-REYNOLDS/AFP via Getty Images)
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Director Dr. Robert Redfield (Photo by ANDREW CABALLERO-REYNOLDS/AFP via Getty Images)

( - With more than half a million coronavirus cases reported in this country (557,663 as of Monday morning) -- and at least 22,116 deaths, is the worst behind us?

"You know, I think, Savannah, we are nearing the peak right now," Dr. Robert Redfield, director of the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention told NBC's Savannah Guthrie on Monday morning's "Today" show.

"I think we'll sometime, hopefully, this week we'll be able to say that -- you know, you'll know you're at the peak when the next day is actually less than the day before. But clearly, the rate -- we are stabilizing across the country right now in terms of the state of this outbreak."

The number of confirmed cases in the United States continues to climb, but at a slower rate. And the number of hospitalizations also has slowed.

Guthrie asked Redfield if he thinks the country will be able to open on May 1, the day after the Trump administration's "30 days to stop the spread" campaign expires.

"You know, I think it's important to look at the country as many different separate situations," Redfield said.

This pandemic has affected different parts of the country differently.

We're looking at the data very carefully county by county by county and we will be assessing that. And clearly the things that need to happen for the reopening is what's happening with the numbers of new cases.

We've got to substantially augment our public health capacity to do early case identification, isolation and contact tracing, and obviously make sure we have the medical and hospital capacity and really start working to rebuild confidence in the community so the community has confidence to reopen.

Dr. Redfield said the reopening must be done "correctly" to prevent a resurgence of the virus.

"Antibody testing's going to give us a good idea from a surveillance point of view of how significant the outbreak was. And in certain circumstances, I think it will bring consumer confidence in certain work forces, particularly some infrastructure work forces, where individuals will have greater confidence, knowing they're already immune, particularly in the health care setting, to see which health care workers have been exposed and now may be able to care for patients without concern of infection."

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