CAMBRIDGE (CBS) — Without a vaccine, health experts say the coronavirus could be with us for many months and possibly into the next year. But an emergency preparedness researcher says he’s “cautiously hopeful” that there will not be a significant second wave of the virus in Massachusetts.

Harvard University’s Dr. Paul Biddinger is the director of the Center for Disaster Medicine at Mass General Hospital.

“There’s always the risk of another wave,” Biddinger told reporters on Tuesday. “Unfortunately of course the virus hasn’t gone away.”

But there are reasons to believe that a second wave won’t be as devastating in the region. If cases start to surge again, he said, people will know to use masks, maintain social distancing and frequently wash their hands.

Biddinger said he’s “cautiously hopeful that we will not see a significant wave here in Massachusetts.”

“I think a chance of a second wave is pretty significant, hopefully, we keep that wave small. We have to decrease the opportunity for the virus to be transmitted from person to person,” he explained. “There are a lot of measures in place that were not in place before the shutdown.”

When it comes to reopening the state, Biddinger said “the fewer restrictions there are on opening, the greater the chance there is of a second wave.” He believes that “the approach of going slowly and monitoring data. . . is definitely the right approach.”

“The hope is to make the pace of reopening appropriate for the decrease in the amount of virus in the community,” he said. “If one line that’s going up, which is the opening, doesn’t outpace the line that’s going down, which is how much virus there is in the community, then I think we can avoid a major second wave.”

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