As COVID-19 cases appear to reach a plateau in New York City, federal health officials are warning of a second wave of outbreaks this winter that could prove even more destabilizing than the current crisis.
In an interview with the Washington Post on Tuesday, Dr. Robert Redfield, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, cautioned that a new outbreak that coincides with flu season could put an unimaginable strain on the country's health care system.
“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,” he said. “We’re going to have the flu epidemic and the coronavirus epidemic at the same time."
Others say a second round of infections could come even sooner, as some states begin to relax restrictions on social distancing. "We could get a second wave even earlier than the fall, that's very concerning," American Medical Association President Dr. Patrice told CNN on Tuesday.
And President Donald Trump said on Twitter Wednesday morning that Dr. Redfield was "totally misquoted," no need to worry.
Also on Tuesday, a leading US model once again revised its death projections upward for both the U.S. and New York, which remains the hardest hit state in the country. According to projections from the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, New York should now expect to see 23,741 deaths through May 22nd.
As of Tuesday, New York had recorded 14,282 coronavirus fatalities statewide — a number that is widely believed to be a significant undercount.
The grim forecast comes as U.S. officials warn that a vaccine for the virus — the "ultimate game changer," according to Dr. Anthony Fauci — is still at least eighteen months away. Some experts believe even that timeline is unrealistic.
Meanwhile, a new analysis of malaria drug hydroxychloroquine, touted by Trump as "like a miracle" for treating the coronavirus, showed poor results on Tuesday.
Looking at its use in veterans hospitals, researchers found there were more deaths among those given the drug, and that it made no difference in the need for a breathing machine.