clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

CDC director says a second wave could come this winter. Here’s why it would be worse than the first

CDC Director Robert Redfield told The Washington Post that a second wave could be troubling

Dr. Robert Redfield, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, speaks about the coronavirus in the James Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House, Friday, April 17, 2020, in Washington.
Dr. Robert Redfield, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, speaks about the coronavirus in the James Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House, Friday, April 17, 2020, in Washington.
Alex Brandon, Associated Press

CDC Director Robert Redfield told The Washington Post in a new interview that a second wave of the novel coronavirus could be worse than the first wave — mostly because it would happen in winter.

Redfield said the second wave would likely begin at the start of flu season, which already puts Americans at risk for sickness and death every year.

“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 said. “And when I’ve said this to others, they kind of put their head back, they don’t understand what I mean.”

He added, “We’re going to have the flu epidemic and the coronavirus epidemic at the same time.”

Two viruses at the same time would put the health service industry at risk, too, Redfield told the Post. The coronavirus has already left the health industry rattled and at a loss.

A second wave could hit sooner than winter, too. In fact, it might come in waves until there’s a vaccine.

According to USA Today, Peter Marks, director of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research, said in a phone call with reporters that “it’s unfortunately not unlikely that we may see a second wave or even a third wave” until there is a vaccine.

“I shudder to think of that, but I think we have to be realistic.”

Of course, the second wave could lead to more deaths and sickness. But it could be limited if there is a higher level of immunity, according to USA Today.

There are signs of second waves across the world. Singapore, for example, saw a resurgence in infections despite handling the first wave so well, according to The Guardian. The country instituted a strong tracing system that stopped the disease from spread. But then it came back in dormitories that housed thousands of foreign workers.

There’s the possibility of a third or fourth wave, too. Coronavirus would move from urban centers to hot spots, like New Orleans and Detroit, where it’s already wrecking havoc. In a fourth wave, smaller cities would be hit, which would go against “the popular belief that only densely populated areas could be hard hit,” according to Forbes.

So how does this end? Redfield told The Washington Post that federal and state officials should prepare for the possibility of a second wave and push the idea of social distancing.

And officials need to increase testing and tracing to limit the spread, he told the Post.