- Dr. Anthony Fauci warned in an interview that the people flying for Thanksgiving “are going to get us into even more trouble than we’re in right now.”
- The public health expert said the Thanksgiving coronavirus spike would not appear for a few weeks.
- The CDC urges people not to travel for Thanksgiving, but a record number of travelers are already crowding airports.
US hospitalizations have broke records 13 days in a row following a massive surge in novel coronavirus cases that neared 200,000 on Friday. That’s also a first for the pandemic, and it seems likely that the 200,000 case milestone will be topped in the coming days, especially as more people plan to travel for Thanksgiving.
Dr. Anthony Fauci and other health experts have been cautioning against big Thanksgiving celebrations this year, as the pandemic is out of control in the US. The nation’s top health experts reiterated his concern during an interview when he said that the people who are about to fly for Thanksgiving are a huge risk for spreading the illness.
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Fauci told CBS’s Face the Nation on Sunday that “people at airports are going to get us into even more trouble than we’re in right now.” He added that the COVID-19 cases from Thanksgiving wouldn’t become evident until a few weeks later. The virus needs anywhere between two to 14 days to incubate, explaining the delay between potential super-spreader events and the actual diagnoses of new cases.
Fauci cautioned that the situation would be “very difficult” as the virus surges into the colder holiday season. The doctor also said that most of the people who are hospitalized right now are between the ages of 40 and 59. The elderly and those vulnerable are also at risk.
The health expert addressed vaccines as well, saying they will become available in the coming months. But he urged Americans to “hang in there” by taking precautions to limit the spread. He said Americans should limit holiday gatherings to people in the same household and observe health measures — wearing masks, practicing social distance, and washing hands.
A variety of studies have tried to explain the COVID-19 transmission risks while flying during the pandemic. Several of them showed that the number of infections following air travel could be kept under control if everyone on board wears face masks. But the transmission risks can’t be eliminated, and there have been cases of transmission aboard airplanes.
Most of these studies only look at what happens aboard the aircraft. But sitting inside the same confined indoor space with other travelers is just part of the flying experience. Until boarding the plane, you have to get to the airport and pass through the various checks. This involves crossing paths with hundreds to thousands of other travelers. And then the same thing happens after landing. Each additional encounter increases the risk of spread.
As several reports observed in the past few days, more people are flying despite the CDC urging people not to travel for Thanksgiving. On Friday, the number of people screened at US airport security checkpoints topped 1 million for the second time since March. Before that, more than a million people flew on Sunday, October 18th. The TSA expects similar numbers for Thanksgiving.
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