The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has threatened that another US lockdown will be on the cards if coronavirus cases spike, at the agency’s first briefing in three months after it was sidelined when the pandemic began.
‘If cases begin to go up again, particularly if they go up dramatically, it’s important to recognize that more mitigation efforts such as what were implemented back in March may be needed again,’ the CDC’s deputy director for infectious diseases, Jay Butler, warned in a press briefing Friday.
Fears are mounting that several states embarked on reopening their economies too early, with a renewed spike in cases recorded in Texas, Florida and Arizona.
Experts are warning that the surge in such states is still the first – and not a second – wave of the virus that never truly went away.
CDC’s deputy director for infectious diseases Jay Butler (pictured) has threatened that another US lockdown will be on the cards if cases rise
CDC officials issued the grave warning Friday that the US could be headed for a second lockdown, after the first plunged the economy into a recession and sparked historic levels of unemployment across the nation.
‘Right now, communities are experiencing different levels of transmission occurring, as they gradually ease up onto the community mitigation efforts and gradually reopen,’ said Butler.
The ‘pandemic is not over’, he added, and so states may need to may need to reimplement the strict measures that were put in place back in March if cases rise ‘dramatically’.
However, decisions will be made on a local level, he added.
It is not clear what the CDC classes as a ‘dramatic rise’ but the warning comes as several of the states that were first to relax stay-at-home orders are recording a surge in cases of the deadly virus.
At least 23 states are seeing spikes in the number of infections when looking at a seven-day average of daily new cases and around 20,000 new infections are still being recorded every day across America.
Texas was one of the first to reopen for business, bowing to pressure from anti-lockdown protesters and bringing its stay-at-home order to an end on April 30.
This week, Texas reported a record-breaking number of new cases in a single day on Tuesday, just one week after the state entered phase three of its reopening plan.
A staggering 2,504 new cases were recorded Tuesday, surpassing its previous single-day record of 1,949 on May 31.
The state also reported a series of record hospitalizations.
Meanwhile Arizona’s health department has warned hospitals to activate coronavirus emergency plans to prepare for a surge in new cases, as the state tackles a surge in cases and hospitalizations.
North Carolina and Utah have also seen record spikes in hospitalizations over the last two weeks, surpassing the levels seen since the pandemic broke out in mid-March.
South Carolina, parts of California, Oregon, Arkansas and Mississippi have also seen an uptick in the number of people being hospitalized.
Oregon and Utah have put their reopening plans on hold following the spike but Texas continues to plow ahead with its return to normal.
Experts including Ian Lipkin, a professor of epidemiology and director of the Center for Infection and Immunity at Columbia University (above) are warning the spikes are not down to a second wave of infections but the first wave that did not go away
More than 114,000 Americans have now died from coronavirus and 2 million have been infected in the past three months.
Experts are warning the spikes are not down to a second wave of infections but the first wave that did not go away.
Ian Lipkin, a professor of epidemiology and director of the Center for Infection and Immunity at Columbia University, told CNBC a second wave would involve the virus retreating and reappearing, or a new variant of the virus emerging – neither of which is the case.
‘The recent increase in cases does not reflect either,’ he said.
Arizona, Texas and some other states ‘never really got rid of the first wave,’ said former FDA Commissioner Dr. Scott Gottlieb.
CDC Director Robert Redfield (pictured) told lawmakers Friday he fears Americans aren’t following the agency’s advice to continue to social distance as lockdown restrictions ease
Gottlieb told CNBC’s ‘Squawk Box’ on Thursday that cases from the first wave are simply increasing as the states relax their lockdowns.
‘They weren’t really that hard hit relative to other states during February [and] March. They had some infection, they had persistent infection. Now we are starting to see it go up as they reopen.’
States that stayed in lockdown longer may have cleared the first wave, according to Nicholas Reich, a professor of biostatistics and epidemiology at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst.
Reich told CNBC that New York, New Jersey and Massachusetts have experienced ‘clear first-wave outbreaks’ whereas many others ‘have had more of a first-wave plateau, without a clear decline for many weeks.’
The stark warnings come as CDC Director Robert Redfield told lawmakers Friday he fears Americans aren’t following the agency’s advice to continue to social distance as lockdown restrictions ease.
‘We will continue to message as well as we can,’ Redfield said Friday.
‘We’re going to encourage people that have the ability to require to wear masks when they are in their environment to continue to do that.’
He urged people to continue to wear face masks and wash their hands regularly.
‘I know that people are eager to return to normal activities and ways of life, important that we remember this,’ he said.
‘This situation is unprecedented. And that the pandemic has not ended.’