The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warned that fresh new lockdowns could be needed if there is a second wave of coronavirus cases that hits the country.
On a Friday conference call, a CDC official said if there is a "dramatic" spike of COVID-19 cases in the U.S., then there may be a need to return to restrictive conditions that shut down the nation in March.
"Right now, communities are experiencing different levels of transmission occurring, as they gradually ease up onto the community mitigation efforts and gradually reopen. If cases begin to go up again, and particularly if they go up dramatically, it's important to recognize that more extensive mitigation efforts such as what were implemented back in March may be needed again," Dr. Jay Butler, the CDC's COVID-19 incident manager, said. "And that is a decision that really needs to be made locally based on what is happening within the community regarding disease transmission."
"We know the pandemic is not over, and even looking at some of the serology data, it's clear that the vast majority of Americans still have not been exposed to this virus," Butler added.
In the past week, COVID-19 cases have increased in 23 states, while declining in eight states, including the worst-hit states of New York and New Jersey. However, confirmed coronavirus deaths have been declining since May 6. Hospitalizations for COVID-19 have been declining steadily since the week of April 18.
States are slowly reopening after being shut down for months after governors implemented stay-at-home orders. The CDC released new guidelines for events and gatherings as states open up and shelter-in-place orders expire.
"The more people an individual interacts with at a gathering and the longer that interaction lasts, the higher the potential risk of becoming infected with COVID-19 and COVID-19 spreading," the CDC said.
The CDC also released guidelines for people finally venturing out after being in quarantine for months. The health organization gives advice on how to be safe when going to banks, restaurants, libraries, nail salons, gyms, and cookouts. The guidelines suggest social distancing of six feet, wearing face masks, not interacting with new people, and limiting exposure to other people.