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COVID-19 cases will surge in the fall, peak after Election Day: experts

COVID-19 cases will surge in the fall, peak after Election Day: experts
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Experts say a second wave of COVID-19 cases will surge this fall, with the peak of the pandemic slated to hit after the Nov. 3 Election Day.

Doctors at Johns Hopkins University are looking into what they call "Surge 2.0," where they envision a second major outbreak of the virus could potentially overwhelm medical facilities with COVID-19 patients, The Washington Post reported.

Lisa Lockerd Maragakis, an associate professor of medicine and infectious diseases, said despite the nearly 190,000 U.S. fatalities caused by the virus so far, more lives could be at risk in the event of another significant nationwide spike.

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"Even though we have had so many cases and we have had so many tragic deaths, we have the vast majority of people who are not immune to this virus," Maragakis said. "Without a therapeutic or a vaccine, we are still in a position where the transmission of the virus depends heavily on our behaviors every day."

Other experts from Hopkins predict the change in seasons from fall to winter will bring on the second wave, causing rising infections and clusters to cultivate and spread more quickly.

"My feeling is that there is a wave coming, and it's not so much whether it's coming but how big is it going to be," said Eili Klein, an epidemiologist at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.

The University of Washington's Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) published a new COVID-19 forecast Friday predicting "most likely" an average death toll of 1,907 infected patients on Election Day, which is double the current toll.

IHME's forecast added that numbers would continue to rise until December, peaking at 2,800 daily fatalities.

Experts say the dominant force controlling the outcome curbing COVID-19's spread is still in the hands of how sternly citizens follow local pandemic restrictions.

"People's behavior is a dramatic determinant here," said Christopher Murray, the director of IHME. "Look at what happened in Florida [after the spike in cases]. People got scared. They started wearing masks, they stopped going to bars."