Health officials worry Labor Day could prompt another virus surge

Washington DC Bureau

WASHINGTON (NEXSTAR) — Anticipating Labor Day weekend gatherings, officials are urging the public to take steps to avoid another spike in COVID-19 cases.

“Summer is a social time. People like to get together for barbecues, for cookouts,” U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Jerome Adams said. “We are set up for spread of a highly contagious disease.”

The fear is that people won’t follow coronavirus mitigation practices with disastrous consequences.

“What we don’t want is to have a big surge in cases right before flu season starts,” Adams said.

College campuses and some Midwest states like Iowa are the latest hotspots for outbreaks. Health care workers in those places are reminding people to take the virus seriously this weekend.

“The city of Ann Arbor is collectively holding their breath right now,” said Dr. MeiLan Han of the University of Michigan, where students have returned to campus.

“We’re just praying that it’s not the same level of surge we saw in March but I can tell you that the hospital is making plans,” she said.

Lawmakers are echoing her concerns.

“When I was in Ann Arbor last week, I saw the beer pong parties in front yards,” Rep. Debbie Dingell, D-Mich., said. “We’re already seeing higher numbers. … That places your teachers at risk, your families at risk.”

Rep. Rodney Davis, R-Ill., has four universities in his district. One is already on lockdown.

“There has been an infection increase,” he acknowledged, but said, “Let’s hope that they don’t close down the schools because I think it would be a devastating blow to the economy.”

Officials say case surges and resulting shutdowns can be avoided if everyone works together to slow the spread by washing their hands frequently, maintaining social distance and wearing masks in public.

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