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Health Officer Linda Vail warns a second wave of COVID-19 may come in the winter

October 14, 2020
<p>Patriarche Park benches stacked up due to COVID-19 on September 29, 2020.</p>

Patriarche Park benches stacked up due to COVID-19 on September 29, 2020.

Ingham County can fully expect a second wave of COVID-19, it’s just a matter of how bad that wave will get, according to Ingham County Health Officer Linda Vail in a media briefing Tuesday.

As Monday marked seven-months since the county saw its first COVID-19 case on March 12, Vail said she expects to be dealing with the virus through the winter. The direction will largely depend on the degree to which they can get strict adherence to precautionary guidelines.

“We’ve known since this came along that absent of a vaccine or cure, we should fully expect a second wave,” Vail said.

Had the control of the virus the county saw in early June remained, then it would have been very easy to see and determine when a second wave was truly beginning. The increase in cases saw in August, Vail said is perhaps a bit too early to be considered a second wave.

Based on the timeline with influenza and respiratory illnesses, Vail said a second wave tends to align with the fall and winter seasons. During this time, people tend to spend more time indoors in congregated settings sharing air space.

“We’re talking about a virus that we haven’t really been able to predict all the time since the beginning of this. So, we’re basing the second wave on the fact that that’s what we see with influenzas, especially in terms of pandemics, and as far as when the next second wave might be, we base that on what we normally see with respiratory illnesses,” Vail said.  

With the surge in cases being vastly individuals aged 18-24, Vail said it’s hard to call that a true second wave. A true second wave should be more distributed across the population, Vail said.

As cases increase in the 18-24 age range, Vail said an increase in hospitalizations and deaths in the older age groups tend to follow.

Though they are unable to directly tie these to MSU connected cases, when there is an increased transmission in the community, the delayed indicator tends to be an increase in hospitalizations and deaths, Vail said.

“It’s going to be challenging to get those things suppressed as we’re also heading into what might be a second wave,” Vail said.

If individuals “made a pact” to wear a mask, socially distance, not have large indoor or outdoor gatherings and to wash their hands, so many orders wouldn’t be needed as the impact would be remarkably effective.  

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