MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — A new report from researchers at the University of Minnesota says we may need to prepare for the impacts of COVID-19 for the next two years.

Dr. Michael Osterholm, director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the U of M, was one of several experts detailing three possible scenarios.

He says we need to understand that we are only at the beginning of the pandemic. He compared it to being in the second inning of a nine inning baseball game.

The report lays out the three scenarios, the first has the virus coming back in peaks or valleys over a year or two, requiring social distancing measures each time it peaks.

The second would be a much larger peak this fall – which would require another quarantine.

A third scenario shows a “slow burn” of illness, but not at a rate that would overwhelm hospitals.

“We are in this for the long hall. We’ve been saying for some time, ‘this is not just get over this hump right now’ and then we’re back it,” Osterholm said. “We are surely looking at how to reopen our state relative to what we’ve been through. But we’re going to be back at this multiple times between now and the next several years.”

Researchers say that whichever scenario the pandemic follows, “we must be prepared for at least another 18 to 24 months of significant COVID-19 activity, with hot spots popping up periodically in diverse geographic areas.”

Osterholm says a vaccine could save us, but he says we won’t have one for at least another 10 to 14 months.

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