WASHINGTON, D.C. – The coronavirus grip on the summer of 2020 is shaping up to mean different things to different people.
“The picture does look different depending on where you are looking in the country,” said Dr. Caitlin Rivers, an epidemiologist with the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security.
Only two states – Connecticut and Rhode Island – recorded a drop in coronavirus cases last week. In a dozen other states, mainly in the northern Plains states and the Northeast, cases are steady, including in hard-hit New York and New Jersey, which got their number of COVID-19 cases under control.
However, in the other 36 states, the number of coronavirus cases is on the rise, including record-breaking numbers in Florida, Texas, Arizona and Nevada
Yet, Dr. Rivers says don’t call it a "second wave."
“Most communities never left the first wave and so it's difficult to call it a second wave,” she said.
But could a second wave of state lockdowns be on the horizon? Dr. Rivers said that can be hard to know, but that would come down to a number of factors – the main one being hospital capacity.
“It's nobody's preference to reinstitute the lockdowns. They're enormously disruptive - they're costly to say the least. It's a very difficult set of circumstances,” Dr. Rivers said. “So, that's really for the worst-case crisis situation. But we can't rule it out because we also cannot allow our health care systems to become overwhelmed.”
That means, there is a need to keep hospitals from reaching 90% capacity. Already, some states have paused their reopenings. In Texas, Florida and Arizona, bars were ordered to shut down again because people were congregating without masks or social distancing.
Some medical experts warn that more measures may be needed.
"If we don't do something - and I mean really strong, on containment, surveillance, contact tracing, isolation - we're in for a very, very rough time," said epidemiologist Dr. Larry Brilliant.
In the meantime, much of the protection against the virus may be left in the hands of each individual.
“All of us, including those of us who live in states that are not experiencing a lot of transmission, should be spending a little bit more time at home skipping mass gatherings for example, wearing fabric face masks going out into the community and doing a really great job at hand hygiene,” Dr. Rivers said.
In other words, people should not let their guard down, while the virus remains out and about.