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Central Texas Local News | kcentv.com

Texas Medical Association expert expects to see second wave of COVID-19 cases

An infectious disease specialist believes a surge will happen days after 100% of businesses reopen.

AUSTIN, Texas — As more Texans begin moving into public spaces, there's concern about a second wave of coronavirus cases, according to infectious disease specialist Dr. Charles Lerner.

"I think it will come back and be a larger number of cases," said Dr. Lerner.

Dr. Lerner is also part of the Texas Medical Association's COVID-19 Task Force. He thinks there will be a surge in COVID-19 cases because he doesn't see people practicing social distancing guidelines.

"You're going to have more contact of infected people with uninfected people," he said.

Which is why testing is more important than ever. Only Dr. Lerner doesn't recommend antibody testing, even if they're FDA approved. 

"The problem with them is that we don't know what they mean and many of the tests out there have a false positive rate of 10 to 50%," he said. " A really good test will have a false positive rate of 2% or less. We have almost no tests like that. We also don't know what the antibodies mean. Are they protected or are they just markers of infection? We have some suggestive evidence in both directions."

RELATED: UT researcher says hospitals should prepare for surge in the coming weeks

Austin Public Health doesn't think antibody tests are reliable either.

In a recently released letter, Interim Medical Director Dr. Mark Escott wrote that he doesn't recommend the COVID-19 kits, even the ones with the FDA's emergency use authorization, or EUA, without further evaluation.

Instead, APH and Dr. Lerner both recommend the nasal swabs over blood draws. Nasal swabs tests for viral genetic material.

"We need the ability to do a lot of testing," he said.

And until there's a vaccine, Dr. Lerner leaves us with a grave reminder.

"If you want your grandparents to come to your wedding, or see the birth of your children, social distance and wash your hands," said Dr. Lerner.

Because the elderly is COVID-19's most vulnerable population.

Austin Public Health plans to offer free COVID-19 testing for asymptomatic residents. A spokesperson said it should happen soon.

Williamson County already offers free COVID-19 testing for asymptomatic residents. 

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