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Will we see a second coronavirus wave and what form will it take?

Health directives in King County and across the state encourage residents to wear face coverings in public settings, including grocery stores. (Photo by Karen Ducey/Getty Images)

With everything going on, it almost seems like talking about the pandemic at this point has been relegated to the back burner. But the virus remains with us. And one of the questions is, if there is a resurgence, what form would it take? Have we learned something about the first wave to respond in a better way to the second wave, and are we seeing a second wave?

Tacoma MD Dr. Gordon Cohen joined Seattle’s Morning News to discuss.

“There’s no question that there has been an increase in number of infections since we started reopening the economy … For example, the state that sort of opened first in the most robust way was Georgia, and they’ve actually had a pretty significant increase in the past six weeks,” he said.

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“But there is some difference that’s occurring. The hospitals seem to be better prepared to deal with the patients that are coming in … we sort of got caught off guard up front. We didn’t have enough personal protective equipment, and we didn’t really know how best to handle the patients that were sick … there’s actually fewer patients on ventilators and patients are able to manage medically better, which was not the case initially.”

While we might be getting more cases, is it safe to say that a larger percentage are going to recover, and will leave the hospital with at least some level of immunity?

“I don’t know if we can say exactly that … For example, Georgia is the best state to use right now because they opened in the most robust way. But they’ve doubled the number of cases and they’ve doubled the number of deaths. They’ve also, however, quadrupled the amount of testing that they’re doing.”

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“Let’s let’s not make any mistakes here, it’s still a very deadly disease … The deaths are still happening, we’re just better at managing the patients. So maybe they’re not as sick. And we won’t necessarily have a surge that will overwhelm the health care system.”

What Dr. Cohen finds concerning is that even at this point, most haven’t been exposed to coronavirus, leaving many still susceptible. He believes we need to remain vigilant.

“What’s alarming to me is in Washington state, they’ve tested hundreds of thousands of people so far, and only 6.8% of people that have been tested are positive for the antibodies to coronavirus. That means 93% or 93.2% of people haven’t seen the virus before. That’s a lot of people that are potentially at risk for getting the virus and getting sick,” he said.

“Normally we don’t achieve herd immunity until we have 70% of the population who has developed antibodies and that’s not going to happen until we get a vaccine … Just because we’re tired of being locked up and we start to open the economy, I don’t think we should be letting our guard down.”

Listen to Seattle’s Morning News weekday mornings from 5 – 9 a.m. on KIRO Radio, 97.3 FM. Subscribe to the podcast here.

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