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Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

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CDC director Robert Redfield. Photo: Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention director Robert Redfield warned in an interview with the Washington Post Tuesday that the second wave of the coronavirus this winter could be even more deadly due to its alignment with the start of flu season.

Why it matters: Redfield urged state and federal officials to use this time to prepare by ramping up testing capacity and contact tracing. He also stressed the need for Americans to understand the importance of social distancing as states lift stay-at-home orders, calling protests against the restrictions "not helpful."

  • Simultaneous respiratory outbreaks would heighten the demand for medical resources like ventilators and protective equipment, putting a tremendous strain on the health care system.
  • Annual flu shots will also be increasingly important in order to minimize hospitalizations.

What he's saying: "There’s a possibility that the assault of the virus on our nation next winter will actually be even more difficult than the one we just went through. And when I’ve said this to others, they kind of put their head back, they don’t understand what I mean," Redfield told the Post.

Flashback: The 2009 H1N1 swine flu pandemic had its first wave in the spring, but experienced a larger second wave in the fall and winter.

The big picture: Redfield acknowledged the need for a massive testing and tracing effort, which public health experts agree is crucial for being able to reopen large parts of the country.

  • Redfield told the Post that the CDC is hiring at least 650 people to assist with contact tracing in states, and he said the agency is considering using Census Bureau workers and Peace Corps and AmeriCorps volunteers to create an "alternative workforce."
  • New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has previously said an "army" of tracers will be needed for the next phase of the coronavirus fight.

Go deeper

Trump launches "Embers Strategy" in coronavirus hotspots

President Trump during a news conference on July 23. Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

The Trump administration is sending increased personal protective equipment, coronavirus test kits and top health officials like Drs. Anthony Fauci and Deborah Birx to coronavirus hotspots across the U.S. as part of a campaign called the “Embers Strategy," White House officials tell Axios.

Why it matters: The push is part of a larger effort to show that President Trump is taking the pandemic seriously, something White House officials describe as a "renewed focus."

Updated Oct 7, 2020 - Health

World coronavirus updates

Expand chart
Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins; Map: Axios Visuals

New Zealand now has active no coronavirus cases in the community after the final six people linked to the Auckland cluster recovered, the country's Health Ministry confirmed in an email Wednesday.

The big picture: The country's second outbreak won't officially be declared closed until there have been "no new cases for two incubation periods," the ministry said. Auckland will join the rest of NZ in enjoying no domestic restrictions from late Wednesday, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said, declaring that NZ had "beat the virus again."

Updated 10 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Omicron dashboard

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

  1. Health: It's very difficult to get access to antiviral COVID treatments — Axios-Ipsos poll: Omicron's big numbersAnother wave of death — FDA limits use of Regeneron and Lilly antibody treatments.
  2. Vaccines: Pfizer begins clinical trial for Omicron-specific vaccine — The shifting definition of fully vaccinated.
  3. Politics: New York Supreme Court grants stay for indoor mask mandate — Neil Young demands Spotify take down music over vaccine misinformation — Biden admin withdraws temporary vaccine-or-test mandate for large employers.
  4. World: U.K. to lift travel testing requirement for fully vaccinated — Beijing Olympic Committee lowers testing threshold ahead of Games.
  5. Variant tracker

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