A case against using the term 'second wave' now: 5 takeaways

Morgan Haefner - Print  | 

While some experts say a second wave of COVID-19 is taking hold in the U.S., others are saying we're not in a second wave, but stuck in a long first wave. 

Here are five takeaways on the case against the current use of the term 'second wave': 

1. Questions around whether the U.S. is in a second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic are being sparked after several states, including Arizona, Utah, Texas and Florida, have seen an uptick in daily cases.

2. Nationwide, average new daily cases of COVID-19 peaked April 10 at about 31,000. That number dropped to around 22,000 on average by mid-May, but has stayed near steady during the past four weeks, according to NPR. More than 800 Americans are dying each day nationwide from the disease.

3. Social distancing and stay-at-home orders helped push COVID-19's reproduction number — or how many people an infected person could infect — just below one. Anything above one will spread exponentially. Still, because the reproduction number is still close to one, cases are more in a plateau than a downward spiral, and the reproduction number is even creeping above one as states reopen.

4. This plateau has led some experts to believe the U.S. never made it out of its first wave of COVID-19. Ashish Jha, MD, a professor of global health at Harvard University in Cambridge, Mass., told NPR, "We really never quite finished the first wave. And it doesn't look like we are going to anytime soon."

5. A "true" second wave may come later in the year, as more evidence is indicating that seasonality may be a big driver of a COVID-19 resurgence. Chris Murray, MD, the head of the University of Washington's Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, told NPR: "We start to see a powerful increase that will be driven by seasonality starting in early September and these numbers will intensify through till February. So seasonality will be a very big driver of the second wave."

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