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Experts fear 2nd surge in coronavirus cases this fall as restrictions loosen

Bay Area

BERKELEY, Calif. (KRON) – Experts fear a second surge in coronavirus cases could happen this fall, as restrictions loosen and students return to school.

So far, shelter in place orders have slowed the spread, but what will happen as we start to open back up again?

While no one knows for sure, John Swartzberg, who is a professor of infectious disease at UC Berkeley, predicts October will be our worst month for several reasons.

“It’s possible over the summer we’re going to see things go like this and maybe gradually increase but nothing dramatic and then school’s going to start at the end of August. Not just K-12 but the universities, after about a month of that, things will explode,” Swartzberg said. 

While he says there are several scenarios of what could happen, seeing a fall surge of coronavirus cases in October is very likely as the economy opens up, restrictions loosen, and students return to school.

“Worst case is that we’re going to see what happened in 1918-1919. That is we’re going to see it not be a big problem in the summer. People are going to get complacent. school starts again and then it explodes. I predict October,” Swartzberg said. 

That’s if there’s still no vaccine and people continue to ignore social distancing warnings.

It’s something we saw over the holiday weekend, more so in places with looser restrictions like Alabama and Missouri.

“It’s not that they haven’t been told. They’ve been told many times. It’s because they haven’t had good leadership and frankly they’re being selfish,” Swartzberg said. 

Swartzberg says what happens this fall is less about the virus..and more about how we behave.

“How well we respond to the virus. How well the country responds as a whole. How good the direction is from the leadership in this country, all the way down to how each one of us behaves, where we recognize we don’t want to get infected but we also recognize we can infect others,” Swartzberg said. 

If we continue to see more cases in the fall, Swartzberg says it could be a very dark winter, as the flu season also kicks into gear.

He says the actions we take over these few months will be crucial in how all of this plays out.

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