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Emory infectious disease experts say coronavirus 'plateau' may be the 'new normal'

Across the U.S., and in Georgia, they said we are starting to see cases level out. But now that things are reopening, it's less likely they'll continue to drop.

ATLANTA — Across metro Atlanta, places are slowly reopening and life is slowly returning to something resembling normal - and this morning, it was the point of discussion among Emory’s infectious disease experts.

Since mid-March we’ve heard the phrase "new normal.” But what does that exactly look like now that the state is reopening?

According to Dr. Carlos Del Rio and Dr. Colleen Kraft of Emory, it looks like a plateau.

Across the U.S., and in Georgia, they said we are starting to see cases level out. But with things reopening more and more, it's less likely they'll continue to drop.

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Instead the new normal appears it will be that plateau - where we live with a certain suppressed level of cases circulating and, hopefully, smaller outbreaks and surges.

"I think probably one mistake that was done is this idea of thinking that we were going to have a curve and a peak and it was going to come down and disappear," Dr. Del Rio said. "I think we have more of a peak and then a plateau, it's almost like we reach a mountain and then we're beginning to stabilize."

Both experts said that it's too soon to say how this past holiday weekend and the economy more fully reopening may affect things. They predicted we won’t have a full scope of the impact that’s had for probably another month.

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The biggest takeaway from today’s briefing is that as places, especially workspaces, start to open back up, there will be outbreaks. Both Dr. Del Rio and Dr. Kraft said you should be mindful of everything around you.

That means wearing masks and managing your social circles.

"I think people need to continue to think about their 'quaran-team' and who they interact with," Dr. Kraft said. "Their coronavirus circle and also how that 'quaran-team' can support you."

Dr. Del Rio said that he believes "we're going to see little outbreaks, but the idea is to make sure those outbreaks don't become large outbreaks."

"I think it’s important to realize who is getting infected and rapidly," he added. "I think the key on the state level, and as a nation, is to rapidly identify individuals. Isolate them. Do contract tracing and stop the outbreaks."

They drove the point home that we are not out of the woods, and hope that with more testing and more information on a vaccine that we could be ready for the fall.

11Alive is focusing our news coverage on the facts and not the fear around the virus. We want to keep you informed about the latest developments while ensuring that we deliver confirmed, factual information.

We will track the most important coronavirus elements relating to Georgia on this page. Refresh often for new information.


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