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There has been a degree of optimism among leading health experts as parts of the nation have reopened without a spike in confirmed cases of coronavirus. However, in the absence of a vaccine many leading voices, including Robert Redfield, director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, have predicted an inevitable second wave of the outbreak in the fall or winter which could be even worse than the first.
But Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said Friday, “We don’t inevitably have to have a second wave. I mean people talk about it but it doesn’t necessarily have to occur.” Two months ago, Fauci said just the opposite: “We will have coronavirus in the fall: I am convinced of that.”
‘We don’t inevitably have to have a second wave. I mean people talk about it but it doesn’t necessarily have to occur.’
Why the change of tone?
“It’s the way we and the efficiency and effectiveness in which we put the manpower, the systems, the tests, to identify isolate and contact trace that will determine how successful we are in preventing that wave,” Fauci said Friday on CNBC’s “Halftime Report.”
He acknowledged that new infections will “start to creep up” in the fall and winter. However, he said he’s “cautiously optimistic as we continue to increase our capability of testing, increasing our capability of doing contact tracing that when that time comes, we will effectively deal with it.”
While the U.S. has significantly ramped up testing capacity since the coronavirus outbreak prompted shelter-in-place orders in March, certain goals set by the White House Coronavirus task force have not yet been met.
Last month, the White House urged governors to test every nursing home resident for coronavirus within two weeks. But only a handful of states were able to do so, the Associated Press reported. Most states were unable to test every nursing home resident within two weeks because they needed more time, did not have ample manpower, or because it cost too much, the AP found.
In total, the U.S. had tested 19,811,243 people for coronavirus, 11% of whom were positive, as of June 4, CDC data show .
In New York City, which is poised for a Phase One reopening next week, hospitals have already begun to procure more personal protective equipment and ventilators for a second and even third wave of coronavirus.
As of Friday, there were 1,880,703 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the U.S., and 108,496 deaths. Worldwide, there were 6,694,512 confirmed cases and 392,940 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University.