▶ Watch Video: Gottlieb calls for easing restrictions on indoor gatherings as COVID-19 cases drop

Washington — Dr. Scott Gottlieb, the former commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration, said Sunday that state and local governments should begin to ease restrictions on indoor gatherings and “allowing people to resume normal activity” as more Americans get vaccinated against COVID-19.

“I think we’re at the point in time when we can start lifting these ordinances in a wholesale fashion and people have to take precautions based on their individual risk,” Gottlieb said on “Face the Nation.” “They have to judge their own individual risk and decide whether or not they’re going to avoid crowds or wear masks based on their circumstances.” 

Gottlieb said that while COVID-19 won’t disappear, the risk of contracting COVID-19 has been substantially reduced as a result of people getting vaccinated and the level of immunity others have acquired through prior infection.

He said the original goal of the public health community was to get transmission of the virus down to 10 cases per 100,000 people on a daily basis, a metric that half of the country has already met. A quarter of the country will hit 5 daily cases per 100,000 people this week, he noted.

“We’re at the point right now where we could start lifting these ordinances and allowing people to resume normal activity,” Gottlieb said. “Certainly outdoors, we shouldn’t be putting limits on gatherings anymore. We should be encouraging people to go outside. In the states where prevalence is low, vaccination rates are high, and we have good testing in place and we’re identifying infections, I think we could start lifting these restrictions indoors as well on a broad basis.”

Last month, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) unveiled new guidance for fully vaccinated individuals, saying they can safely socialize outside without wearing masks in most situations. The guidance also said both fully vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals should continue to wear masks for indoor activities outside of the home.  

According to the CDC, the national seven-day average of new daily cases in the U.S. is 89.5 per 100,000 people, the lowest it has been since October. The country has administered 257 million vaccines, with 33.9% of the total population fully vaccinated.  

Data now shows that the COVID-19 case rate has dropped in 30 states and in the District of Columbia. Gottlieb said those who are more susceptible to the virus should continue taking precautions, but others should be able to resume normal activities.

“The only residual concern I think a fully vaccinated person should have is, are they themselves immunocompromised? I mean, and you know if you are. If you have a chronic disease that makes you more vulnerable, you’ll know that new vaccines won’t be as effective for you. And are you going to be around people who are immunocompromised? There you want to be more careful,” Gottlieb said. “That’s where I would still exercise some caution. But outside of those circumstances, I think we can get back to doing normal things right now against the backdrop of a summer when prevalence is going to decline very quickly.”