KEY POINTS

  • Tom Ridge says the world will never be rid of COVID-19
  • "We do have to worry about a resurgence," he said
  • The U.S. must get its economy back up and running despite this

COVID-19 will become a "permanent risk" to the United States and "a part of Mother Nature’s infrastructure" if the country fails to get this dangerous disease under control.

This grim warning was made by Tom Ridge, a former first secretary of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). Ridge served in this role from 2003 to 2005 under president George W. Bush. He earlier served as governor of Pennsylvania from 1995 to 2001.

On the Fox News program, "Your World with Neil Cavuto," Thursday, Ridge pulled no punches in assessing the damage being wrought on the U.S. economy by the COVID-19 pandemic and the federal and state responses to this unparalleled health and economic crisis.

He told Cavuto that Republican and Democrat governors "by and large ... have done a very good job." This success was achieved despite what he politely described as "challenges associated with inconsistent messages, perhaps from Washington, and the availability or unavailability of some basic equipment."

This success, however, doesn't end the fight. Health experts are unanimous in predicting a return of the disease in the fall and in 2021, and urging the country to prepare for COVID's comeback.

On April 21, Dr. Robert Redfield, director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) warned a second wave might be worse than the current outbreak because it will coincide with the opening of the flu season.

"There’s a possibility that the assault of the virus on our nation next winter will actually be even more difficult than the one we just went through," said Redfield. "We’re going to have the flu epidemic and the coronavirus epidemic at the same time."

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, has also repeatedly warned of a second wave. This resurgence will add immensely to the misery now besetting Americans, who have to contend with 1.62 million confirmed cases and 96,228 deaths, as of 7:15 p.m. ET, Thursday, according to Worldometer data.

Ridge agrees with the dire assessment by both Dr. Redfield and Dr. Fauci but went one step further. He sees the disease as a part of America's future landscape. He also believes we'll never eliminate COVID-19.

"We do have to worry about a resurgence," said Ridge. "At the same time, we ought to understand it’s going to be a permanent risk. We have to learn how to manage it."

Ridge said managing COVID-19 will involve getting the economy up and running. This means the U.S. will "have to go from a steady stop, which we've done basically to a lot of the economy, and we have to gradually move back in and put people back to work."

Ridge urges federal and local officials to "be smart and adopt some common sense into mitigating the risk and understanding their risk and managing the risk."

People practise social distancing at a park in Brooklyn, New York. The United States has the world's highest number of coronavirus infections and deaths People practise social distancing at a park in Brooklyn, New York. The United States has the world's highest number of coronavirus infections and deaths Photo: AFP / Johannes EISELE