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The U.S. might already have started seeing the second wave of COVID-19, new study says

Mathematicians Nick James and Max Menzies said in a paper that a new tool indicates a second surge might have already begun in the U.S.

Wearing face masks to prevent the spread of COVD-19, Trey Lipscomb, center, holds the hands of his son, Trey, 6, and daughter Tia, 4, as they walk in front of Big Tex after getting their photo made during a visit to Fair Park in Dallas, Saturday, Sept. 19, 2020. Although the State Fair of Texas was canceled this year, fair organizers are holding drive-thru visits starting this weekend.
Wearing face masks to prevent the spread of COVD-19, Trey Lipscomb, center, holds the hands of his son, Trey, 6, and daughter Tia, 4, as they walk in front of Big Tex after getting their photo made during a visit to Fair Park in Dallas, Saturday, Sept. 19, 2020. Although the State Fair of Texas was canceled this year, fair organizers are holding drive-thru visits starting this weekend.
LM Otero, Associated Press

Policymakers might want to look at turning points in the data for COVID-19 cases to determine when a new wave might start, scientists said in a new published paper.

And the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic might have already started, the researchers said.

What’s going on?

Mathematicians Nick James and Max Menzies said in a new paper that looking at infection rates or plateauing might not be the best way to determine when surges start and end.

  • “In some of the worst performing states, it seems that policymakers have looked for plateauing or slightly declining infection rates. Instead, health officials should look for identifiable local maxima and minima, showing when surges reach their peak and when they are demonstrably over,” said James a Ph.D. student in the school of mathematics and statistics at the University of Sydney, in a statement.

The scientists detailed a new method that looks at COVID-19 case numbers to see evidence of the first and second aves.

  • “They found 31 states and the District of Columbia were experiencing a second wave as of the end of July,” according to a press release on the study.

What surges look like

Some states lowered the infection curve by the end of July — a sign of a single surge. Other states see single infection surges. And then there are some states where there was a surge followed by decline followed by a second surge.

  • “This is not a predictive model,” James said. “It is an analytical tool that should assist policymakers determining demonstrable turning points in COVID infections.”