Health officials urge continued social distancing to avoid 'second wave' of COVID-19

As the daily number of new cases of COVID-19 begins to level-off, the state of Florida has relaxed restrictions put in place to reduce the virus' spread. Some wonder if reopening many parts of daily life will send the number climbing. 

It's an issue the World Health Organization is now addressing, reminding the citizens of the world to remain vigilant.

"We need to be also cognizant of the fact that the disease can jump up at any time. We cannot make assumptions," said WHO's executive director of health emergencies, Dr. Mike Ryan.

As the globe navigates the first wave of COVID-19, Dr. Marissa Levine with the University of South Florida explained exactly what a wave looks like.

"A wave is a pretty rapid uptick or increase in the number of cases. We call it an exponential increase. That means one person can give the disease to more than one other person," Dr. Levine said.

RELATED: Coronavirus cases in Florida top 52,000 in Tuesday update; 2,259 deaths

It's why she says social distancing remains key in keeping the case count down. With no vaccine, it's the only way to reduce the likelihood of a second wave.

"We're on the backside of the wave, but we aren't necessarily seeing the wave come down and that means that we're still in a situation where one person is giving it to another person," Dr. Levine said.

It's a topic President Trump addressed late last week when asked if he's concerned about a potential second wave.

"People say that's a very distinct possibility. It's standard and we are going to put out the fires. We're not going to close the country, we're going to put out the fires," President Trump said.

In 1918, the second wave of the flu pandemic was deadlier than the first, but Levine says that's not necessarily an indication of what will happen in 2020.

"That exponential increase. If you can catch that early that means you can significantly decrease the peak of that wave," Dr. Levine said.

If you feel sick:

The Florida Department of Health has opened a COVID-19 Call Center at 1-866-779-6121. Agents will answer questions around the clock. Questions may also be emailed to Email responses will be sent during call center hours.

LINK: Florida's COVID-19 website

CORONAVIRUS IN FLORIDA: What you need to know


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