MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. – In just the past week, Florida has confirmed more than 12,000 new cases of COVID-19. That’s more than many countries have reported since the start of the outbreak.
So, does this mean that the state is seeing a second wave of coronavirus?
Not necessarily, experts say, but it’s ultimately up to us.
“The big concern here and in other countries is, is this going to be a second wave?” says Dr. Bindu Mayi, a professor of microbiology and infectious diseases expert from Nova Southeastern University’s school of medicine. "There are some who say yes there will be a second wave, it’s just a matter of time. Others and Dr. [Anthony] Fauci has most recently said, it’s not inevitable.
“What that tells us is we can put prevention in place to avoid that. So, that said no, we haven’t seen that second wave here in the United States yet.”
Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said last week that the recent increase in cases seen in a number of states is not necessarily a “second spike.”
“However, when you start to see increases in hospitalization, that’s a surefire situation that you’ve got to pay close attention to,” he told CNN on Friday.
Mayi, likewise, said the current situation is worth monitoring closely. She said the fact that we are testing more is contributing to the rise in cases, but that the loosening of restrictions to reopen business, which has brought people closer together, is also a factor.
The gathering of protesters could also play a role in increased cases.
“That brought a lot of people together, some of whom were not careful and got too close together, and of course were shouting, which helps the virus [spread],” said Dr. Aileen Marty, an infectious disease expert at Florida International University.
Miami Mayor Francis Suarez and Miami Beach Mayor Dan Gelber are among the local leaders watching the numbers closely and urging residents to be vigilant in following health guidelines.
“We’re not going backwards yet [in terms of what’s open],” Suarez said Monday, “but we’re kind of sounding the alarm. We’re saying: This is not good.”
Added Gelber: “We can’t read the message of a loosening of the economy as an all-clear.”
Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez said he doesn’t view the recent numbers as a spike, though.
“At this point in time we do not see any kind of big spike, what we do see is more people working and doing the things they’re going to do like going to the gym or going out to the park or the beach,” he said. “We saw a spike in cases after Mother’s Day. Well, now its two weeks since the beginning of the protests in Miami-Dade, three weeks after Memorial Day, so does that have something to do with it? And we also have been opening more, so we frankly expected more cases after we opened, without a doubt.”
So, how will we know if we’re going into a dreaded second wave?
“If we do see a second wave, we are going to see an increase across the board with everything — the number of new cases, but also the percent will go up,” Mayi said. “So initially, around May, for instance, the beginning of May we were seeing between 7-8% of tests coming back positive, now its about 5-point-something.”
The medical experts, from Mayi to Marty to Fauci, all repeat that controlling this is in our hands — which hopefully we’re still washing as vigorously as we did earlier in the pandemic.
“We should still be taking this very seriously,” Mayi said. "The more I read about this virus, the more I realize what a horrible virus it is, so if you can do everything you can to prevent it, certainly, and we can, right? Science tells us what to do.
“Let us wear those masks and no, if it’s hanging off your nose, that’s not helping you. So, we really need it over our nose, over our mouth and the important thing is if you’re going to manipulate that mask in any shape, way or form adjust it, make sure your hands are clean because we are touching things with our hands and then we are adjusting them then that’s counterproductive.”
She continued: “I know most of us are anxious to get back to how things used to be, but we really got to take it, if possible, one week at a time, if not at least one day at a time. But let’s not think about, ‘Oh, when can we really get back to how it used to be,’ because we may be in for the long haul until there is a standardized treatment regimen or at least a vaccine.”
Local 10 News reporter Trent Kelly contributed to this report.