As states start to reopen or, at least, consider reopening, the director of the CDC has a warning: The coronavirus isn't going anywhere, and when the next wave hits the US, it could be worse than this one. "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," Robert Redfield tells the Washington Post. "And when I’ve said this to others, they kind of put their head back, they don’t understand what I mean." So he broke it down: "We’re going to have the flu epidemic and the coronavirus epidemic at the same time," which could be devastating for the nation's health care system. Even a severe flu season alone is enough to put a strain on that system, and Redfield notes we're lucky the coronavirus arrived as the current flu season was waning.
If COVID-19 had arrived earlier, "it could have been really, really, really, really difficult in terms of health capacity," he said. Redfield says that officials need to use the next few months to prepare for a second wave by increasing testing and contact tracing (which, he noted, Census Bureau workers, Peace Corps volunteers, and AmeriCorps volunteers could potentially help with), continuing to urge residents to practice social distancing, and starting to remind people how important it is to get a flu shot next season. CNN reports that White House coronavirus task force coordinator Dr. Deborah Birx was asked about Redfield's comments during Tuesday's press briefing. Her take: "I don't know if it will be worse, I think this has been pretty bad. ... I believe that we'll have early warning signals both from our surveillance that we've been talking about in these vulnerable populations. We're going to continue that surveillance from now all the way through to be able to give us that early warning signal." (Read more coronavirus stories.)