What a new wave of COVID-19 would mean
Some states have begun reopening public places, which could signal patients to return to doctors’ offices even though doctors’ offices were never officially closed. Oklahoma, for example, reopened restaurants, movie theaters, and sports venues on May 1.
Dr. Monks, president of the Oklahoma Medical Association, said his group opposes states reopening. “The governor’s order is too hasty and overly ambitious,” he said. “Oklahoma has seen an ongoing growth in the number of cases, hospitalizations, and deaths in the past week alone [in late April].”
The concern is that opening up public places too soon would create a new wave of COVID-19, which would not only be a public health disaster, but also a financial disaster for physicians. Doctors would be back where they were in March, but unlike in March, they would not benefit from revenues from previously busy times.
Mr. Pinto said the number of COVID-19 cases will rise and fall in the next 2 years, forcing states to reenact new bans on public gatherings and on elective surgeries until the numbers subside again.
Mr. Pinto said authorities in Singapore have successfully handled such waves of the disease through short bans that are tantamount to tapping the brakes of a car. “As the car gathers speed down the hill, you tap the brake,” he said. “I suspect we’ll be seeing a lot of brake-tapping until a vaccine can be developed and distributed.”
Gary LeRoy, MD, president of the American Academy of Family Physicians, recalled the worldwide Spanish Flu pandemic a century ago. “People were allowed out of their houses after 2 months, and the flu spiked up again,” he said. “I hope we don’t make that mistake this time.”
Dr. LeRoy said it’s not possible to predict how the COVID-19 crisis will play out. “What will the future be like? I don’t know the answer,” he said. “The information we learn in next hours, days, or months will probably change everything.”
A version of this article originally appeared on.