On Friday, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention warned that the ongoing rise in new coronavirus cases could lead to another wave of stay-at-home orders and business closures. CDC deputy director Jay Butler spoke in a press briefing, saying that the current re-openings around the U.S. may not be permanent. With no vaccine available and immunity still uncertain, some fear that the "second wave" of the virus could be worse.
"If cases begin to go up again, particularly if they go up dramatically, it's important to recognize that more mitigation efforts such as what were implemented back in March may be needed again," Butler said on Friday, according to a report by CNBC. He added that once again, local and state governments would be responsible for stay-at-home orders and other preventative measures. He also pointed out that, in many places, new cases of COVID-19 are already rising dangerously high, so a return to full-on closures of public life could be coming again.
One of the worst-hit areas right now is Los Angeles County, where 1633 new cases of the coronavirus were documented as of Friday. However, parts of Arizona, Texas and Florida have seen similar phenomena. Butler said that the response would need to be even more localized in the upcoming wave of the virus.
"Right now, communities are experiencing different levels of transmission occurring, as they gradually ease up onto the community mitigation efforts and gradually reopen," he said. Still, Butler did not define what a "dramatic" rise in case numbers might mean. At least 23 states are currently seeing rising case numbers, including Texas, which was one of the first states to allow its stay-at-home order to expire, and is now hitting record-high numbers of cases.
Public health experts have reportedly been concerned that many states are reopening too soon, and doing so too fast. However, in many places politicians are eager to return to some semblance of normal. President Donald Trump has said that another nation-wide shutdown will not happen, and state officials are reportedly pushing to rebuild the economy.
In the meantime, Butler and other public health experts emphasize the importance of social distancing, increased cleaning, wearing masks and other preventative measures to reduce the spread of the virus when people can and do go out. Butler noted that, in places where these guidelines are not being followed strictly, a rapid rise in cases is far more likely.