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What Florida needs to detect a second wave of coronavirus before it starts

More than a million positive cases have been reported in the U.S. and more than 82,000 people have died.

TAMPA, Fla. — As states continue reopening and we start getting back to our new normal, it's hard to believe a second wave of COVID-19 coronavirus could hit in the fall.

More than a million positive cases have been reported in the U.S. and more than 82,000 people have died. Experts say the second outbreak, if it occurs, could be more deadly than the first.

"The reality is coronavirus is more than likely here to stay," Dr. Jill Roberts with the University of South Florida Public Health said.

With no official treatment in sight, epidemiologists say the pandemic's data closely resembles the Spanish Flu of 1918. The flu came in three waves, and the second in the fall was the most deadly. 

Roberts says cooler weather will force more people inside and that could be dangerous.

"It was the second wave that actually killed more people, so we have to stay vigilant. Fall is the peak time period for the virus. It's when it can spread the easiest, it's when it can survive the longest on surfaces and it's when it's present the most in the environment," Roberts said.

That's why the public health department needs to be prepared to catch COVID-19 before it ramps up again. 

Here in Florida, more people need to go get tested, masks should be available for everyone and contact tracers will be vital for tracking down where the outbreak started.

RELATED: As Florida reopens, 'critical' COVID-19 contact tracing is lacking

Roberts also says state reopening laws could change.

"What's really good to do is have periods where we have more strict, and then we have a little bit loosen, and then more strict again as we need it," Robers said. "The question we have to ask our self now is are the individuals prepared? 

"We'll go outside a little bit more now, but then we need to pull back in the fall when it gets serious again."

RELATED: St. Petersburg to reopen dog parks, likely to expand outdoor dining

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