By Dan Koob

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — COVID-19 cases are rising again in what public health experts are calling the start of the predicted second wave. An area of concern for doctors in the region is the spread of COVID-19 at political rallies.

“We are seeing rapidly rising case counts of the coronavirus infection here in Philadelphia in what appears to be the beginning of a fall/winter surge of the epidemic,” Philadelphia Health Commissioner Thomas Farley said.

Farley sounded the alarm on almost 45,000 COVID-19 cases in Philadelphia, and a high risk of community transmission.

Dr. Meagan Reid works in the ER at Crozer-Chester Medical Center. While not in Philadelphia, Reid says she’s also noticing the numbers.

“We saw, did see COVID cases over the summer, but they weren’t as sick as they were when COVID first hit us,” Reid said. “I’m now starting to see in the emergency room patients who are COVID positive and sick again.”

A Stanford University study concluded rallies for President Donald Trump between late June and late September caused over 30,000 cases of coronavirus and likely led to over 700 deaths.

The president has hosted rallies in the Philadelphia suburbs as both parties have identified the suburbs as the key to unlocking Pennsylvania and its 20 electoral votes.

But Reid is worried the region could be next to see a significant spike.

“I definitely anticipate seeing the same thing,” Reid said. “These events are super-spreader events, and as COVID has been increasing now, I think that is going to add to it.”

The last complete week of numbers was for the week ending Oct. 24. The city says it averaged 296 cases per day.

“That’s our highest weekly case count since the first week of May,” Farley said. “Our data is incomplete, and that number will increase beyond that.”

Health officials this week also recommended canceling family holiday gatherings.

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