Story at a glance
- New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo expressed concern over duel outbreaks of influenza and COVID-19 in the fall.
- Face masks and social distancing remain the best way to combat the spread of the virus.
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Monday that state health officials are “very concerned” about the typical influenza season this fall, as experts fear double outbreaks of both the flu and the coronavirus.
Cuomo gave the warning while announcing updates with New York’s reopening plan, adding that this year’s flu season could make the coronavirus pandemic more complicated “in many ways,” per CNBC.
“You’re in the flu season. Everybody is sneezing, everybody is coughing and everybody has a runny nose. Who has the flu and who is possibly Covid positive? It becomes a much more difficult calculus,” Cuomo said to reporters.
He further noted that battling the two viruses will further stress the health care system as COVID-19 infections continue to rapidly spread in parts of the country.
“Maybe God is good and he says to us this year, ‘you’ve been through enough. I’m going to give you a light flu season this year, which we would deserve, by the way.’ But it is definitely a stresser on the system,” Cuomo said. “It’s going to add additional stress on the hospitals. It’s going to add additional stress on the testing facilities.”
Specifically, stress on already overworked testing facilities could double during the flu season. Cuomo warns that the division in labor could produce longer wait times for the administration of COVID-19 tests.
“They are going to turn around and say to me, ’I can’t do 100 Covid tests anymore. I can only do 60 Covid tests because I have to do 40 flu tests,’” Cuomo described.
Cuomo’s comments echo concerns voiced by multiple health officials early in the pandemic, as some experts hoped the coronavirus would be controlled during the summer months and in time to prepare for the flu season — which did not happen.
Most recently, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Robert Redfield said that if Americans do not strictly adhere to public health precautions, the coming months could be the “worst fall” seen in the history of U.S. public health.
President Trump diverged with Redfield when speaking to the press on Saturday, saying that he disagrees with Redfield’s assessment.
“If you look at these numbers, they are coming down substantially,” Trump said.
Data shows that the U.S. leads the world in coronavirus cases, with more than 5.4 million confirmed infections and at least 170,000 deaths.
Once the epicenter of the U.S. outbreak, New York state now has one of the lowest infection rates in the country. Cuomo says the state’s infection rate is now 0.7 percent, the lowest rate since the beginning of the outbreak.
“We are averaging 1% or under since June,” Coumo said. “That is exactly where we want to be.”