EMTs help a patient at Mt. Sinai Morningside Hospital in New York City on May 18, 2020.

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All 50 states have taken steps toward reopening and several have reported an increase in coronavirus hospitalizations.

“It’s a small uptick, but it is an uptick, and it is unmistakable, and it is probably a result of reopening,” Scott Gottlieb, a former Food and Drug Administration commissioner, told CNBC.

Beaches were packed over Memorial Day weekend, with revelers, who weren’t using personal protective equipment, ignoring social distancing guidelines.

“I’m concerned that there are people who think that this is the all-clear,” Gottlieb added. “I think what we really need to be doing is defining a new normal. We’re going to need to live differently until we get to a vaccine.”

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Former Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Scott Gottlieb blamed a recent uptick in coronavirus hospitalizations on states that had already reopened.

“We now see a trend in an uptick in hospitalizations. It’s a small uptick, but it is an uptick, and it is unmistakable, and it is probably a result of reopening,” he said in a CNBC interview Tuesday. “We expected cases to go up and hospitalizations to bump up when we reopened.”

A slew of states — including Georgia, Virginia, Alabama, Maryland, Florida, Mississippi, and Wisconsin — have reported an increase in hospitalization rates, Gottlieb said, despite reopening incrementally.

“We’re going to have to watch it,” he said. “We expected this … But we are going to see cases go up as we reopen the economy and our social lives.”

 

Although hopeful that the “seasonal effect” of high temperatures and humidity will “offset” the impact of social interactions as warm weather beckons more people outdoors, Gottlieb urged caution.

“I’m concerned that there are people who think that this is the all-clear,” he told CNBC. “I think what we really need to be doing is defining a new normal. We’re going to need to live differently until we get to a vaccine.”

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But footage from the Memorial Day weekend showed quite the opposite, with massive crowds on beaches.

“Disney is closed, Universal is closed. Everything is closed, so where did everybody come with the first warm day with 50% opening? Everybody came to the beach,” Volusia County Sheriff Mike Chitwood said about throngs of beachgoers in the Daytona Beach area of Florida.

 

And they weren’t the only offenders.

Missouri health officials were forced to ask people filmed at pool parties at Lake of the Ozarks to self-isolate. 

Gottlieb said he’s not suggesting that “we can’t enjoy certain things or go back to work,” but that people need to have a different approach to returning to work and participating in social activities.

He encouraged people to think about “fewer social interactions” and to use personal protective equipment. He also recommended finding a “few people that you’re willing to interact with that you trust” because engaging with large social groups with unfamiliar people can be dangerous.

“That’s a set up for a lot of risk,” Gottlieb said.

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