Dallas, Houston, Southeast Florida’s Gold Coast, the entire state of Alabama and several other places in the South that have been rapidly reopening their economies are in danger of a second wave of coronavirus infections over the next four weeks, according to a research team that uses cellphone data to track social mobility and forecast the trajectory of the pandemic.
The model, developed by PolicyLab at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and updated Wednesday with new data, suggests that most communities in the United States should be able to avoid a second spike in the near term if residents are careful to maintain social distancing even as businesses open up and restrictions are eased.
But the risk for resurgence is high in some parts of the country, especially in places where cases are already rising fast, including the counties of Crawford,
Iowa; Colfax, Neb.; and Texas, Okla. and the city of Richmond. Since May 3, Crawford County’s caseload has risen by 750 percent, and Colfax County’s has increased 1,390 percent, according to state data compiled by The Washington Post.
This is an anxious moment for the nation as people emerge from shutdowns and communities try to reinvigorate economic activity. Scientists and public health experts are monitoring rates of infections and hospitalizations, but it is difficult to forecast during this transitional period because models struggle to capture how people actually behave, including adherence to social distancing and hand-washing practices.
There are preliminary signs, however, that hot spots — new clusters of coronavirus spread — could soon flare across parts of the South and Midwest.
“As communities reopen, we’re starting to detect evidence of resurgence in cases in places that have overreached a bit,” said David Rubin, director of PolicyLab.
Researchers at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center said last week that cases in the Dallas-Fort Worth metropolitan area could spike this summer, with a tripling of daily active cases of covid-19, the disease the novel coronavirus causes, if there is a significant easing of mitigation efforts. And PolicyLab projects that in the next month, Harris County, which includes Houston, will go from a couple hundred cases a day to more than 2,000….Read More…