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On Tuesday, the day after the coronavirus death toll in the U.S. passed 40,000, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Robert Redfield, cautioned that the anticipated second outbreak of COVID-19 expected next winter could surpass the current wave.
“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,” Redfield told the Washington Post. “When I’ve said this to others, they kind of put their head back, they don’t understand what I mean.”
Redfield warned that the winter redux would occur just as flu season is ramping up. (Those paying attention to conservative dismissals of the pandemic know the flu kills around 80,000 Americans annually.) But with both respiratory viruses active at the same time, American hospital systems could be inundated with patients — something the first wave, breaking mostly in March and April, has avoided. “It could have been really, really, really, really difficult in terms of health capacity,” Redfield said, if the initial outbreak had occurred earlier in the year. To help prevent the dual outbreaks, he recommended an increased push for Americans to get the flu vaccine — and to get it early — in order to control the more controllable of the two viruses.
Redfield — who leads the organization that botched initial COVID-19 testing — also recommended a major increase in testing and contact tracing and for Americans to continue to practice strict social distancing. However, some states are risking a second outbreak before the first ends: On Tuesday, most businesses in Georgia were allowed to open, even as coronavirus cases continue to rise in the state.