• Health experts are worried that coronavirus cases in the US may spike again soon — in a matter of days, in fact.
  • The reason is because of the upcoming Labor Day holiday, since holidays have tended to lead people to relax their guard when it comes to protecting themselves against the coronavirus.
  • Another complicating worry is that any spike now could contribute to this fall being even worse for the US than it otherwise would be, with the onset of the normal flu season.

The latest data from Johns Hopkins University shows that the COVID-19 pandemic remains a frightening specter in the US, with more than 6.1 million coronavirus cases having been reported since the outbreak began (along with more than 186,000 deaths). At the same time, however, the news has gotten a little better in recent days. In an online discussion with the Journal of the American Medical Association on August 20, CDC director Robert Redfield said that many states in the South that had seen their numbers of coronavirus cases surge this summer have started to “turn the tide.” Meanwhile, the CDC has told health officials in all 50 states to get prepared to start distributing a coronavirus vaccine as early as late October or early November. 

All that said, there’s a tendency in the US for us to let our guard down a bit after we’ve enjoyed a spate of improvement in the coronavirus picture — in addition to around a holiday, when people want to do things like travel and spend time being around family and friends. And it just so happens that both of those factors are true right about now, with health experts worried that we might see an uptick in coronavirus cases again in the days after this weekend.

The specific point on the calendar that’s got some health experts worried is Labor Day, which is set for Monday. There’s a concern that travel and family gatherings could spark an uptick in cases — but not only that, White House health advisor Dr. Anthony Fauci has stressed in new remarks that how people behave over the Labor Day weekend will go a long way towards impacting the situation the US faces this fall.

During the fall and winter, health experts are worried about the potential of a crushing double whammy that the US might be in store for — both the coronavirus pandemic and the normal flu season putting unprecedented stress on the nation’s health care infrastructure. Making things especially difficult is the fact that both the coronavirus and the flu are respiratory illnesses that can have similar symptoms, so there could be confusion on the front end about which illness a person even has.

All of which is to say, this is why health experts are sounding the alarm now, urging people to abide by coronavirus guidelines especially this weekend — including the wearing of masks and social distancing.

“I’m worried about Labor Day, because people may have the impression that cases are coming down,” Ali Mokdad, an epidemiologist and professor of health metrics sciences at the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington, told CNN. “Despite the fact that COVID-19 is now the third leading cause of death, people still doubt that we have a problem.”

Andy is a reporter in Memphis who also contributes to outlets like Fast Company and The Guardian. When he’s not writing about technology, he can be found hunched protectively over his burgeoning collection of vinyl, as well as nursing his Whovianism and bingeing on a variety of TV shows you probably don’t like.