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Dr. Fauci Warns We Could See ‘Surge Upon Surge’ of COVID-19 Cases After Thanksgiving Travel

We may see coronavirus “surge upon surge” in the coming weeks, warned Anthony Fauci, M.D, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. But Dr. Fauci also said in a new interview there are still some COVID-19 measures people in the U.S. can take to reduce the toll in the next few months.

When asked if we should expect the same sorts of COVID-19 restrictions going into the December holiday season that we had around Thanksgiving, Dr. Fauci told ABC This Week, “I can’t see how we’re not going to have the same thing.” With the kind of numbers we have now, “it doesn’t turn around all of a sudden,” he said.

There are currently more than 13 million COVID-19 cases in the U.S., according to data from the Johns Hopkins University of Medicine. The country saw a new record for the most coronavirus cases in one day—205,557 cases—on November 27, the day after Thanksgiving. Overall, there were approximately 4 million new cases in November, according to the New York Times, which is more than double the number of new cases we saw in October.

In the past, Dr. Fauci and other experts cautioned that having numbers this high going into the holiday season (during which people were likely to be gathering and possibly spreading the virus) could mean extremely high amounts of cases, hospitalizations, and ultimately deaths in the following weeks. Despite the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommending specifically against traveling for Thanksgiving, many people did—and numbers have stayed high so far.

“So, clearly, in the next few weeks we’re going to have the same sort of thing and perhaps even two or three weeks down the line, we may see a surge upon a surge,” Dr. Fauci continued. “We don’t want to frighten people, but that’s just the reality. We said these things may happen as we got into the cold weather and as we began traveling and they happened. And they’re going to happen again.”

But there are still some steps that individuals and local governments can take to keep those numbers as low as possible. If you did travel for Thanksgiving or interact with people outside of your household, you can take the same precautions you would take after traveling under any other circumstances: Assume that you’ve been exposed to the coronavirus, quarantine yourself preemptively if possible, and consider getting a COVID-19 test in a few days, Dr. Fauci advised. Additionally, it’s still crucial to wear masks in public, stay socially distanced, and wash our hands frequently.

“Be really careful when you either return from the place that you went or other people come back into your house,” he said. “You’ve really got to understand the importance of trying to prevent further spread and further surge.”

And then at the government level, Dr. Fauci said that there’s no “one-size-fits-all” set of restrictions that will work for every local area. But in general, “close the bars and keep the schools open,” he said. Although schools and daycares appear to have a relatively low risk for COVID-19 spread, bars and restaurants are much more likely to lead to coronavirus spread.

But at the same time, “the best way to ensure the safety of the children in school is to get the community level of spread low,” Dr. Fauci said. “So, if you mitigate the things that you know are causing spread in a very, very profound way, in a robust way, you will then indirectly and ultimately protect the children in the school because the community level [determines] how things go across the board.”

That means that both individuals and government authorities need to do what they can to prevent the spread of COVID-19 now more than ever—and know that those restrictions are not likely to change in the next few weeks.

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