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The head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is warning that a second wave of coronavirus could coincide with the start of flu season, proving to be even more devastating than the enduring COVID-19 pandemic.
CDC Director Robert Redfield told The Washington Post in an interview Tuesday that the nation should be cautious even as some states attempt to reopen their economies in the coming weeks and continue to practice social distancing measures to mitigate the spread of the virus.
Redfield stressed that the practice has had “an enormous impact” on containing the outbreak, but said Americans need to plan ahead and consider getting a flu shot in the summer so that when winter comes, hospitals are not once again overburdened.
He added that the precaution “may allow there to be a hospital bed available for your mother or grandmother that may get coronavirus.”
The coronavirus pandemic has overcrowded hospitals around the world and across the country, taxed the capacity of morgues and exposed the shortage of ventilators and protective equipment for health care workers and others on the front lines of the virus.
Redfield said that in order to avoid a repeat of the horrors of this pandemic, which has killed 43,630 people and infected 804,194 others in the U.S. alone, the CDC is beefing up the workforce that is dealing with public health issues to accommodate and adequately plan for a second onslaught.
The agency plans to add an additional 650 personnel to the already existing 500 staff members across the nation to “substantially augment” the public health response when all of the states begin to roll back stay-at-home restrictions and have people reenter the workforce and resume daily life.
Still, more workers are needed and the CDC is weighing utilizing field workers intended for the Census Bureau — which suspended operations until May due to the coronavirus outbreak — as well as the Peace Corps and AmeriCorps to establish “an alternative workforce,” it said.