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Sun May 17, 2020, 06:06 AM

UTSW Researchers: Get Ready for a Larger Second Wave of COVID-19

The Texas economy may be reopening, but experts at UT Southwestern and the Center for Infectious Disease and Policy say that we may be in for a larger COVID-19 spike later this year if current measures continue, with smaller waves through 2021. UTSW researchers predict that there could be 800 new cases a day in North Texas alone by July, and the CIDRAP study lays out three possible scenarios given the current situation and says the worst case is most likely.

Because COVID-19 has a longer incubation period than regular flu, it spreads most easily before symptoms occur, and has a large percentage of asymptomatic carriers. That makes it almost impossible to arrest the spread. People may be infected without knowing it, and may be spreading it at their greatest rate before they even have symptoms, according to the study. Based on other pandemics, CIDRAP thinks this pandemic will last 18 to 24 months and won’t be halted until 60 percent to 70 percent of the population is immune.

UT Southwestern’s report models the spread of the virus across North Texas, based on patient data. First, the report notes that Dallas acting when it did prevented tens of thousands of cases, with a two-week delay resulting in 6,100 total cases in North Texas rather than the anticipated 93,000. It notes the uptick in social movement over the past two weeks, as well as total hospitalizations has hovered between 250 and 350 since early April.

But the most startling prediction is that if current social distancing measures are continued, DFW may see 800 new cases a day by early July, rather than the 250 it is experiencing now. Current measures are 60 percent effective in containing the spread, which will result in 800 cases a day according to UTSW’s projections. But if prevention measures were bumped up to just 65 percent, cases would be begin slowly decreasing for the rest of the year. If the measures become 69 percent effective, cases are more quickly reduced to almost zero.

Read more: https://www.dmagazine.com/healthcare-business/2020/05/utsw-researchers-get-ready-for-a-larger-second-wave-of-covid-19/

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