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CDC director warns of a deadlier ‘second wave’ of coronavirus

The second wave would combine the effects of the coronavirus and the flu, totally overwhelming our healthcare system.

CDC director warns of a deadlier ‘second wave’ of coronavirus
Dr. Robert R. Redfield, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. [Photo: D. Myles Cullen/The White House/Flickr]
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While some U.S. states are gunning to lift lockdowns and reignite their economies, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is warning that the novel coronavirus could have a second wave—which could prove even more catastrophic than the last.

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CDC director Robert Redfield told the Washington Post on Tuesday that “There’s a possibility that the assault of the virus on our nation next winter will actually be even more difficult than the one we just went through,” as “we’re going to have the flu epidemic and the coronavirus epidemic at the same time.” And with two respiratory diseases simultaneously aggressing our population, healthcare providers would be disastrously overwhelmed, he said.

Hospitals and clinics are already facing a critically short supply of ventilators, with staff forced to choose who gets them and who doesn’t.

To prepare for a resurgence, Redfield told the Post, federal and state officials should use the next few months to encourage continued social distancing and to massively scale up testing and contact tracing capabilities. And Americans should get preemptive flu shots leading into the fall, he said. While a nasty flu season can itself stress the healthcare system, had the COVID-19 pandemic struck several months earlier in the thick of winter, “it could have been really, really, really, really difficult in terms of health capacity.”

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Recently, the director of South Korea’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Jung Eun-Kyeong, also told CNN that she expected a second wave of COVID-19 “come autumn or winter season, because most of the people do not have immunity.”

But Redfield’s warning appeared to ruffle the feathers of President Trump, who tweeted this morning, “CDC Director was totally misquoted by Fake News @CNN on Covid 19,” presumably referring to yesterday’s report by the Washington Post. “He will be putting out a statement,” said the tweet. (No word yet on the statement.)

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Last week on Twitter, Trump egged on lockdown protesters in Minnesota, Michigan, and Virginia, beseeching them to “liberate” their states.

Protesting states also included Kentucky, which saw its greatest single-day spike in coronavirus cases on Sunday, after a week of demonstrations.