The number of new cases of the novel coronavirus has dropped significantly in the last few weeks, and that trend is “likely to continue,” Dr. Scott Gottlieb, former head of the Food and Drug Administration, said over the weekend.

What happened?

Gottlieb said on CBS News’ “Face the Nation” over the weekend that the declining COVID-19 infection rates will likely continue as more Americans receive the COVID-19 vaccine.

  • “This has taken a tragic toll on the United States, but we should be optimistic, in my view,” Gottlieb said on the “Face the Nation” program. “I think we’re going to continue to see infection rates decline into the spring and the summer. Right now, they’re falling quite dramatically. I think these trends are likely to continue.”
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How long will it last?

Gottlieb told CBS there are reasons to be optimistic. However, he said new variants — specifically those from the United Kingdom, South Africa and Brazil — could create more risk. But the risk isn’t big enough to reverse the current trend, he said.

  • “I think it’s too little, too late in most parts of the country,” he said. “With rising vaccination rates and also the fact that we’ve infected about a third of the public, that’s enough protective immunity that we’re likely to see these trends continue.”

What does the decline look like?

Data from Johns Hopkins University shows the U.S. has seen a 29% decline in new COVID-19 cases within the last week, according to CNN. That is the steepest drop in COVID-19 cases since the beginning of the pandemic, CNN reports.

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What about Utah?

Coronavirus cases saw a slight uptick in Utah over the weekend, but it comes as the state has seen a massive drop in cases since January, according to the Deseret News.

  • “The portion of positive COVID-19 tests increased slightly over the weekend in Utah, but prevalence of the disease is lower than it’s been in months,” according to the Deseret News.