Coronavirus Second Wave? Why Cases Increase
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When the coronavirus pandemic began early in 2020, experts wondered if there would be waves of cases, a pattern seen in other virus pandemics. The overall pattern so far has been one of increasing cases of COVID-19, with a surge in the summer and a larger one in the fall. Some locations that saw a high number of coronavirus infections early on, followed by a decline, are having a second wave of increased cases.

~ What causes a spike in coronavirus cases?

Human behavior is the major factor. State and local governments, as well as individual people, differ in their response to the pandemic. However, the relationship between those precautions and cases of COVID-19 is clear: In areas where fewer people are wearing masks and more are gathering indoors to eat, drink, observe religious practices, celebrate and socialize, even with family, cases are on the rise.

~ “Reopening” and Coronavirus Spikes

As communities began to reopen bars, restaurants and stores during the spring and summer of 2020. Transmission of the virus was easily rekindled once people increased their activities and contact with each other. Medical experts urged reopening communities to continue diligent COVID-19 precautions. Unfortunately, the combination of reopening and lapses in these infection prevention efforts has caused the number of coronavirus infections to rise again.

~ Tracking Coronavirus Surges

An increase in the number of COVID-19 cases or hospitalizations will not be seen a week or even two weeks later. It seems to take much longer, perhaps as many as six to eight weeks, for effects of a policy to appear in the population-level data. It can take up to two weeks for a person to become sick with the coronavirus. Several cycles of infection must occur before a noticeable increase shows in the data.

When an area relaxes precautions, the effects will take a month or more to be seen. If everyone continues to wear masks, wash their hands and practice social distancing, reopening will have a much lower impact.

~ Is COVID-19 worse in the fall and winter?

There was a substantial spike in coronavirus in the U.S. during the summer. Other respiratory illnesses, like colds and influenza (flu), are more common in the colder months. In colder months, people gather indoors and this is a risk for further transmission of the virus.

~ Why are experts concerned about future spikes of the coronavirus or a second wave in some areas?

Fall and winter in the Northern Hemisphere mean inclement weather in many areas. Several holidays take place around the end of the calendar year. There are many unknowing coronavirus carriers in many different areas of the country.

~ What is herd immunity from the coronavirus?

Herd immunity is a public health term that refers to the fact that when enough people in a community have immunity from a disease. About 70% of the population needs to be immune to this coronavirus before herd immunity can work. Researchers are trying to determine if, and for how long, people are immune from the virus.

~ Preparing for a Spike or Second Wave of Coronavirus in Your Area:

Doctors, clinics and hospitals recognize that more COVID-19 surges are likely to occur. They are working with manufacturers to stock up on equipment, and they are continuing their policies for protecting patients and staff members.

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