A second wave of COVID-19 could hit the U.S. as Americans become complacent, especially with flu season right around the corner.
“Until we get a vaccine, we can’t change our behavior[s] just because numbers go down,” said Krystle Gandhi, executive director of Clinical Informatics and Operations at John Peter Smith Hospital.
It isn’t certain what will happen in the fall and winter, but the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention believe it’s likely flu viruses and coronavirus, the virus that causes COVID-19, will both be spreading. This makes it possible to contract both viruses at the same time as well as other respiratory illnesses.
It’s more important this year than ever before to get a flu vaccine, according to the CDC. Even though a flu vaccine will not protect against COVID-19, it can offer various other benefits including reducing the risk of flu illness, hospitalization and even death.
Gandhi expects a second wave of COVID-19 to develop and coexist with seasonal flu. However, she’s optimistic that the current state mandate on wearing masks could decrease the amount of flu cases this upcoming season.
While influenza and COVID-19 are both contagious respiratory illnesses, different viruses cause them. Testing may be the best way to confirm a proper diagnosis and distinguish the two viruses from one another, according to the CDC.
Influenza circulates year-round in the United States, but flu season begins in the fall, lasting through winter.
Maria Diaz, surgical trauma progressive care assistant manager at John Peter Smith Hospital, believes COVID-19 will stick around for a while longer as it is considered the new norm. Differentiating between the flu and COVID-19 could require more work on the nurses’ side, Diaz said.
Diaz divides managerial duties with the clinical manager of her floor. Together they oversee patient and nursing safety to ensure organizational goals are being strictly enforced.
“I don’t think it’s going to go away soon,” she said. “[With] holidays coming up as well, we may risk a little more with families living together.”
One of the main symptoms of COVID-19 that differentiates it from the seasonal flu may include a change in or loss of taste or smell. Flu viruses vary from mild to severe, and can induce fever, cough, fatigue, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, and headache.
COVID-19 symptoms seemingly take longer to develop than the flu, according to the CDC. A person with the flu shows signs anywhere from one to four days after being infected, whereas a person infected with COVID-19 could take up to 14 days to show symptoms.
A second wave could keep students at home for a little longer, denying them the typical in-person college experience. Although UTA plans to transition fully online after Thanksgiving break, many individuals fear the transition will happen sooner.
Nursing junior Lori Ly said not being able to attend in-person lectures or testing centers has really kept her at home but also allowed her to connect closer with her family.
“I just think [there will] be a second wave [of COVID-19] coming because the cases are still kind of going up, and we’re still really not doing anything about it.”
Nursing junior Jose Ortiz works as a nurse assistant and said he is aware of the possibility of a second wave in the near future.
COVID-19 will be here for a long time, he said. Like HIV and AIDS back in the ‘80s, once it happened, it never went away.
“Eventually it’s gonna catch up to people who haven’t had it,” he said.