New York has managed to keep impressively low coronavirus positivity rates after a gruesome spring where the state had the highest number of cases in the country during March and April. But health experts worry it might not be able to avoid a second wave.

“New York is like our South Korea now,” Dr. Thomas Tsai of the Harvard Global Health Institute told the New York Times, noting the country’s impressive control of the virus within its country.


Now, with travelers arriving, higher rates in New Jersey and lagging contact tracing, can the state keep its positivity rate below the stellar 1%? Examples like Hong Kong and Australia show that places that once contained the virus have seen recent surges in cases.

The nature of the coronavirus makes a second wave likely. And while New Yorkers have stayed inside, indoor dining in New York City is still delayed and other measures have been taken to suppress the virus, it’s still only suppressed.

“People in New York have taken matters much more seriously than in other places,” said Dr. Howard Markel, a historian of epidemics at the University of Michigan to the New York Times. “And all they’re doing is reducing the risk. They’re not extinguishing the virus.”

Experts worry that out of state travelers, schools opening in September, cold and flu season and people getting complacent with high test rates and low positivity rates could mean a second wave in the fall. 20% of new cases are connected to out of state travel.


“My concern is complacency,” Dr. Oxiris Barbot, New York City’s former top public health official, said in an interview last month. Barbot said that masks and social distancing were contributing to the low positivity rates, but added, “I think it would be foolish of us to not plan for an inevitable second wave.”

Read more about protecting yourself from coronavirus. Check the CDC website for more information on how to protect yourself and check our latest article to learn how COVID-19 differs from the flu.


Scientists believe that the spread of COVID-19, or coronavirus, started at an exotic animal market in Wuhan, China. You can help stop the incidence of viruses like these by signing this petition to ban the wildlife trade.

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