The nation’s top disease experts warned that Americans face a post-Thanksgiving COVID-19 surge over the coming weeks. Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director for the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, called it a “surge superimposed on the surge.” “
Americans Face a Post-Thanksgiving COVID-19 Surge
What we expect, unfortunately, as we go for the next couple of weeks into December, is that we might see a surge superimposed on the surge we are already in,” he said during a “Meet the Press” interview. “I don’t want to frighten people, except to say it is not too late to do something about this,” he added.
‘Week or Two After Thanksgiving’
Dr. Celine Gounder, a member of the COVID-19 Advisory Board of U.S. president-elect Joe Biden, gave a grim warning. “We fully expect that in about a week or two after Thanksgiving we will see an increase in cases first, then about a week or two later you’ll start to see an increase in hospitalizations, and then another week or two after that you’ll start to see deaths,” she said.
Gounder said that COVID-19 symptoms develop up to two weeks after exposure. This makes people who “celebrated with family, with friends over Thanksgiving will find themselves in the hospital, in ICUs over Christmas and New Years.” The comments came out Friday when coronavirus cases in the US numbered over 200,000 for the first time.
‘It’s Going to Get Worse’
US Surgeon General Jerome Adams agreed with the assessment. He appeared on Fox News last Sunday to ask people to take precautions. “It’s going to get worse over the next several weeks, but the actions that we take in the next several days will determine how bad it is or whether or not we continue to flatten our curve,” Adams said.
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention issued warnings against traveling for last week’s holidays. Despite the advisory, 9 million Americans showed up at airports during the before, during, and after the weekend.
No Locking Down Necessary
Fauci said that decision-making will play an important role. “I think we are going to have to make decisions as a nation, state, city, and family that we are in a very difficult time, and we’re going to have to do the kinds of restrictions of things we would have liked to have done, particularly in this holiday season, because we’re entering into what’s really a precarious situation,” he said.
Colleagues from all over called on Dr. Fauci for help in managing the surges. If cases continue to rise, hospitals might get overloaded. He advised that Americans take their own virus mitigation steps for themselves. Instead of waiting for a lockdown, practice safety measures on an individual basis. “We’ve got to realize that we do have within our capacity to be able to blunt that by doing the simple things that we talk about short of locking down, so we don’t precipitate the necessity of locking down,” Fauci said.
Remember Post-Memorial Day
Dr. Deborah Birx, White House coronavirus task force coordinator, said that the U.S. enters a worrisome stage. The days after Thanksgiving might produce greater numbers in cases, hospitalizations, and deaths. These numbers might get higher than the post-Memorial Day figures. This was the last holiday when the country experienced a surge in cases.
In an interview with CBS News, Birx said “We saw what happened post-Memorial day. Now we are deeply worried about what could happen post-Thanksgiving because the number of cases — 25,000 versus 180,000 a day — that’s why we are deeply concerned.” She added: “We know people may have made mistakes over the Thanksgiving time period. If you’re young and you gathered you need to be tested about five to ten days later, but you need to assume you’re infected and not go near your grandparents and aunts and others without a mask.”
Admiral Brett Giroir, assistant secretary at the Department of Health and Human Services, manages the government’s COVID-19 testing effort. Giroir also worries about a potential surge in the days after Thanksgiving. The government invested millions of dollars in improving rapid testing kits.
With more people taking tests, Giroir would “love to have hundreds of millions of those tests.” Right now, those who want tests face long lines and long wait times. He said delivery of complete supplies will take a few more months.
Dr. Birx warned that those who traveled last week should assume the worst. They need to get tested within the next few days. “We know people may have made mistakes over the Thanksgiving time period. If you're young and you gathered, you need to be tested about five to 10 days later. But you need to assume that you're infected and not go near your grandparents and aunts and others without a mask.”
Which Way to Go?
As the previous Memorial Day weekend showed, surges happen after a holiday. Experts fear this Thanksgiving weekend can also generate a similar but worse scenario. As Dr. Fauci said, how we handle the next few days is key to what happens over the course of the year.
View the ABC News special report that Coronavirus concerns grow as Americans travel for the holidays:
Do you agree to implement personal safety measures to avoid potential lockdowns in your area? Or would you rather advocate for a lockdown until the curve flattens in your area? Let us know what you think by leaving your thoughts in the comment section below.
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