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UT health expert says second wave of COVID-19 is 'inevitable'

In a conversation with KVUE, Dr. Catherine Troisi also provided advice about returning to work in an office.

AUSTIN, Texas — As the U.S. inches closer to 100,000 coronavirus deaths, a Texas public health expert is warning that a second wave of COVID-19 is "inevitable."

Dr. Catherine Troisi is an infectious disease epidemiologist at the University of Texas' School of Public Health in Houston.

She said she saw reports from Memorial Day weekend celebrations where so many failed to practice social distancing, including dozens of people standing shoulder-to-shoulder at a pool party at the Lake of the Ozarks in Missouri.

Dr. Troisi said when the public ignores social distancing guidelines, a second wave of the virus is unavoidable.


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"I think it's inevitable as we release, as we go back to socializing, and I'm sure you've heard the reports, especially over this holiday weekend, of people not maintaining physical distance, not wearing masks. And nothing has changed. The virus is still out there. We still don't have a vaccine. The only way we have of stopping [the] spread are what are called non-pharmaceutical interventions, which are wearing a mask, keeping your social distance and disinfecting environments and washing your hands," she said. "And if we're not doing ... those, it is inevitable we will see a rise in cases. That's because so many people are still susceptible to the virus."

Dr. Troisi said it's hard to predict when the second wave will hit.

In her conversation with KVUE, Dr. Troisi also provided insight about returning to work in offices amid the pandemic. She warned that it's important for facility managers to sanitize and clean buildings before employees go back to work after the stay-at-home orders. 

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Stagnate water in plumbing systems or air conditioning units could pose health risks for workers because that water could cause bacteria to build up and create health risks like the respiratory illness Legionnaires' disease.

"It is a concern. However, there are things we can do about it. You know, we can make sure to flush the water system before people come back. We can put disinfectant in an appropriate time. So, it's something we can deal with. and it's good that we're aware of the risk because then we can address it," she said.

Dr. Troisi said surfaces would also need to be sanitized.

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