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Dr. Fauci says to watch for this warning sign ahead of a second wave

Published Aug 5th, 2020 11:03AM EDT
coronavirus second wave
Image: Erin Scott/Pool via AP

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  • Dr. Anthony Fauci, the top infectious disease expert in the country, says a new surge of coronavirus cases will be preceded by a clear warning sign.
  • Relatively small spikes in the number of positive test results in any given state is a good indicator that a new wave is coming, Fauci says.
  • The best way to prevent the spread of the virus is by wearing a mask when venturing out of your home, and maintaining social distancing.

Throughout the coronavirus pandemic, Dr. Anthony Fauci has been one of the voices that shape the public response to the outbreak. His advice hasn’t always been followed — not even by the presidential administration for which he works — but he’s been right about so many things that it’s probably a good idea to listen to what he has to say.

Now, in an interview with the editor-in-chief of JAMA, the Journal of the American Medical Association, Fauci says that we should be expecting a surge in the pandemic based on the rates of positive test results across various states.

“Prior to the surging, you could detect an early increase in the percent positive for any given state,” Fauci explains. “It’s a good predictor of a surge. Even if it goes up 1 or 1.5 percent.”

So, which states are seeing this kind of hike in positive test results? Based on the data compiled by the New York Times for its coronavirus tracker, there are many states seeing either all-time highs of new cases or a resurgence in positive test results after already enduring the first major wave.

States like Missouri, Alaska, Montana, and Hawaii are reporting higher positive test results than ever. Meanwhile, states that have already been hit hard by the virus, like Massachusetts, New Jersey, Rhode Island, Maryland, Nebraska, and Illinois are seeing their numbers rise once again.

If Fauci is correct — and at this point, there’s no reason to think he isn’t — states that are seeing an uptick in cases are likely experiencing just the tip of the coming iceberg. Many states across the Midwest have yet to see a peak, and those that have are at risk of a second spike as communities begin to “reopen,” perhaps far sooner than they should.

At the moment, the best advice for combating the pandemic is the same as it has been for months. Social distancing is huge, and if you’re going out, you should be wearing a mask to prevent the transmission of the virus. Even if you feel fine, you could be spreading the virus, and if you’re not infected, you could easily catch it if you’re in close proximity to someone who has it and neither of you is wearing a mask.

The fact that wearing a mask has become political is a tragedy. There’s nothing political about wanting to keep yourself and others safe. That’s just being a good person.