Despite the continued rise in COVID-19 cases across the state, Governor Newsom has announced the re-opening of businesses in California as early as Friday on the basis of factors such as the state’s capacity for testing, the level of stability with regards to hospitalization rates, and development of contact tracing systems.
“On Thursday, the 7th, we will put out the guidelines. If the guidelines are met and modifications are made, then people can start reopening with those modifications in these particular sectors as early as Friday,” the governor announced in a press conference on Monday.
Without a vaccine, however, the risk of contracting the virus will remain a continued threat in the reopened world. “I’m almost certain it will come back, because the virus is so transmissible and it’s globally spread,” said Dr. Anthony Fauci of the U.S. National Institute of Allergies and Infectious Disease in a recent livestream.
To add to this, the second wave could be even worse. This possibility is outlined as one of three possible scenarios for the virus in a University of Minnesota Center for Infectious Disease and Research and Policy (CIDRAP) report – one the writers believe governing bodies “should prepare for”.
The 1918 influenza pandemic, or ‘Spanish Flu’, is one pandemic that experienced a deadlier second wave. The first wave of the flu occurred in the spring of 1918 and was followed by a wave in the fall that killed an overwhelmingly higher number of people due to a mutation. Such a mutation could be less likely for COVID-19, however, given its slow mutation rate.
In a recent interview, Dr. Fauci commented: “[…] I have no doubt it’s mutating as all RNA viruses mutate. We have not seen thus far any type of change in the way it’s acting, but we are keeping a very close eye on it because it is conceivable that it could mutate and change some of the ways that it performs.”
The second wave of COVID-19 could create a greater strain on the healthcare system than the first wave, however, if it coincided with regular flu season.
“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,” Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Director Robert Redfield told the Washington Post. “We’re going to have the flu epidemic and the coronavirus epidemic at the same time.”
To help avoid the confusion that could threaten to overload the healthcare system by the concurrent presence of two respiratory illnesses, Redfield strongly advocates for vaccinating against the flu.
“One of the greatest tools we have as we go through the fall-winter season is to get the American public to embrace the influenza vaccine and thereby minimize the impact of flu to be the other respiratory disease we confront,” he commented.
The state has released a plan to gradually reopen California past ‘Stage 2’ that will be entered Friday, however Governor Newson has commented that this process could be reversed if case numbers continue to trend upward.