Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, recently called the virus "My worst nightmare," in some ways more than HIV or Ebola.
"One hundred and ten thousand people have already died," he said. "So the range is extraordinary."
Local officials are warning residents to wear masks, maintain social distancing, and not to get complacent.
"This COVID has not gone away," Governor Andrew Cuomo said.
As hundreds of thousands of workers return to their jobs and to mass transit, health officials caution that does not mean moving back to what was normal.
"You still should be wearing a mask, you still should be trying your best as possible to have that physical distancing," Dr. Fauci said. "You still need to be washing your hands as often as you possibly can, and avoid congregation in large numbers."
Dr. Fauci believes potential COVID-19 cases stemming from the large number of protests in New York City will not be surprising in coming weeks.
"Members of the congregation that were there demonstrating could also be infected," he said. "And many of them would then go back to where they were, because many of them were not demonstrating where they lived. They've come from the outside."
If and how that virus might spread at this point is still unknown. To measure, New York state conducts 50,000 tests per day.
"I have asked (protesters) to get tested," Cuomo said. "We have made testing available for protesters, but that may not show up for a couple of weeks."
Officials are also preparing for the possibility of a second wave of the virus, and preparations were outlined during a virtual City Council hearing.
"We continue to track data in real time and are prepared to immediately shift resources again if the virus experiences a second wave," FDNY First Deputy Commissioner Laura Kavanagh said.
The FDNY was under an overwhelming record workload during the first month of the pandemic that required staffing, operational and supply measures.
"Each change was a significant undertaking, and those efforts, while lengthy, have given us a blueprint from which to make immediate changes if a second COVID wave were to occur," Kavanagh said.
On the question of vaccines, Dr. Fauci believes early testing and then advanced clinical trials could yield promising results.
"We could have a vaccine either by the end of this calendar year or the first few months of 2021," he said.
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