CDC guidelines for Thanksgiving 2020 amid COVID-`19

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which has been urging Americans to stay close to home for months, updated its advice Thursday to an even blunter message: Stay home for Thanksgiving.

“Postponing travel and staying home is the best way to protect yourself and others this year,” the CDC said in new rules posted Thursday.

The agency posed several questions to ask yourself and your loved ones. If the answer to any of them is “yes,” the agency said, “you should consider making other plans, such as hosting a virtual gathering or delaying your travel.”

The questions are:

  • During the 14 days before your travel, have you or those you are visiting had close contact with people they don’t live with?
  • Do your plans include traveling by bus, train or air, which might make staying six feet apart difficult?
  • Are you traveling with people who don’t live with you?

If you choose to travel or hold a gathering for Thanksgiving, the CDC offers this advice: Check local and state travel restrictions first, get a flu shot before departing, always wear a mask in public, stay at least six feet from anyone who does not live with you, and wash your hands and use hand sanitizer often. Avoid touching your mask and face as much as possible. Bring extra face coverings and hand sanitizer and be prepared to delay your travel.

If you will be a Thanksgiving guest, the CDC recommends, bring your own food, drinks, plates, cups and utensils, stay away from food preparation areas and employ single-use options, like salad dressing and condiment packets and disposable food containers, plates and utensils.

If you’re hosting for the holiday, the CDC said, you’re increasing risk with every person you bring in from outside your household. If you’re not willing to celebrate virtually with other households, the agency said, make the occasion “a small outdoor meal with family and friends who live in your community.”

Besides keeping the guest list as short as possible, the CDC said, hosts should talk in advance with guests “to set expectations for celebrating together.”

In addition: clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces and items between uses. If you insist on celebrating indoors, “bring in fresh air by opening windows and doors, if possible. You can use a window fan in one of the open windows to blow air out of the window. This will pull fresh air in through the other open windows.”

Other tactics: Have guests bring their own food, drink and utensils or use single-use options, like plastic utensils.

With COVID-19 infection, hospitalization and death numbers rising dramatically nationwide, many individuals and families are rethinking travel plans that seemed reasonable a week or two ago. Others seem to be sticking with their travel itineraries, resulting in widely disparate estimates about how many people will be taking to the road for the holiday.

If you’re still thinking of traveling, consider ways you can lower your risk of infection, whether you fly, take a train or bus, or drive.

The CDC underscores how you might contract the virus if you’re flying by coming in contact with people while queuing up in TSA security lines and waiting in airport terminals. Here are our tips on how to navigate LAX during the COVID-19 pandemic. One easy takeaway: Go nuts with hand sanitizer. Hundreds of stations have been installed throughout terminals.

How are you going to get to the airport? Here’s what you need to know if you plan to take Uber or Lyft, and here’s what to consider if you are taking public transit.

If you’re traveling with children, there are extra precautions to take, like bringing plenty of electronic games to keep them occupied. Teach them how to properly wear a mask. Here are more tips for traveling with kids.

Car travel might lower your risk of exposure. You still have to stop for gas and bathroom breaks, but you can pack a cooler with drinks and snacks to keep rest stops to a minimum. Here are more tips on keeping yourself safe while hitting the road.

If your destination involves staying at a vacation rental, check out our guide to best practices when you get there.

Need to stay at a hotel or motel? Try these pandemic tactics.

What Airbnb and VRBO’s “flexible cancellation policies” actually mean.

The American Automobile Assn., drawing upon forecasts made in mid-October, predicted up to 50 million Americans would travel for this Thanksgiving, mostly by car — a relatively modest drop from 55 million in 2019.

However, the association said in a release last week: “As the holiday approaches and Americans monitor the public health landscape, including rising COVID-19 positive case numbers, renewed quarantine restrictions and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s travel health notices, AAA expects the actual number of holiday travelers will be even lower.”

The AAA is also forecasting that those who travel “are likely to drive shorter distances and reduce the number of days they are away.” Travel by automobile, the AAA said, “is projected to fall 4.3%, to 47.8 million travelers and account for 95% of all holiday travel.”

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Avoid Traveling This Thanksgiving, Chicago’s Top Doctor Says As Coronavirus Surges Across US

CHICAGO — Chicagoans should reconsider any travel plans they had for Thanksgiving, the city’s top doctor warned Tuesday.

COVID-19 is surging throughout the United States, and the majority of the country is now on Chicago’s Emergency Travel Order. Chicago’s own outbreak is considered out of control, with new cases doubling every nine days. Hospitalizations and deaths are quickly climbing throughout Illinois.

That means anyone coming to or from Chicago carries a risk of spreading coronavirus, Dr. Allison Arwady, head of the Chicago Department of Public Health, said at a Tuesday coronavirus update.

“As you’re thinking ahead — perhaps to Thanksgiving — please keep this map in mind,” Arwady said while showing a map of all the states on Chicago’s quarantine list. “Traveling is a concern right now.

“When we are coming from Chicago or from Illinois and traveling out, we are bringing a potential risk of COVID. When people are coming to Chicago from most of the country at this point, they’re bringing an elevated risk of COVID.”

RELATED: Florida Added To Chicago’s Travel Quarantine List

Thanksgiving falls on Nov. 26 this year, meaning it’s less than a month away.

Arwady said she hopes Chicago can regain control of its COVID-19 outbreak before then — but that seems unlikely due to how quickly Chicago is surging. New cases are growing as quickly as they did during the deadly first wave in the spring.

“I am not planning to travel this Thanksgiving unless we see significant improvements in this map,” Arwady said. “And I would encourage you — especially if you normally are getting together with people who are older or have underlying health conditions — to think seriously about whether this is the year for travel.”

Families and friends traditionally gather on Thanksgiving, eating and spending time together. But as with Halloween, Easter, Rosh Hashanah and other holidays this year, gathering has proven dangerous due to the pandemic.

Arwady, Mayor Lori Lightfoot and state officials have urged people to stop gathering in groups and to stop inviting people into their homes. They’ve said most of Chicago’s COVID-19 spread is happening in small groups at home, here people let down their guards and don’t wear masks or keep 6 feet of distance.

Arwady said city officials are especially concerned about college students who tend to travel a lot between their families and schools during Thanksgiving. That creates “the potential for seeing even more surge,” she said.

While city and state officials have urged people not to have holiday gatherings or have people over, Arwady said people should, at the least, wear masks and keep 6 feet of distance if they do invite non-household members into their homes.

The state also released tips for how people can make the holidays safer if they insist on gathering, like eating in separating rooms and wearing masks.

And people should be particularly thoughtful about gatherings if any people are more at risk of COVID-19 — like those who are elderly or have underlying health conditions — or if members of their households are more at risk, Arwady said.

“My hope is that a month from now, we’ll be in a better place,” Arwady said. “But that’s not the way the numbers are heading now. And I want to be honest with you about what that risk is looking like.”

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Flying For Thanksgiving? How to Stay Safe During COVID-19 Travel

Key Takeaways

  • If you can avoid it, experts warn not to travel over the Thanksgiving holiday.
  • Traveling by plane can be risky, but there are certain actions you can take before, during, and after a flight that may lower your risk of transmitting or contracting COVID-19.
  • Be sure to check quarantine regulations for your destinations, and monitor any symptoms before and after your flight.

Planning on flying over the Thanksgiving holiday? This year, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, traveling in a busy airport may be even more hectic and stress-inducing than usual. Many are asking: is it safe to fly at all? There isn’t one clear cut answer. But the good news is, if getting that much-needed family time requires boarding a plane, there are some steps you can take to protect yourself and those around you.

“Ideally, people should not be traveling this year. However, people have different responsibilities and needs,” Kunjana Mavunda, MD, a pulmonologist from Florida who also runs an international travel clinic, tells Verywell. “This year has been difficult. Mental stress levels have increased. Domestic violence, elder abuse, alcohol, and drug use are increasing. So, a person may need to travel.”

The holidays will force us all to make difficult decisions regarding our travel plans and gatherings. Ultimately, the decision to travel is a personal one, and should be based on an assessment of the benefits and possible risks, Timothy F. Brewer, MD, a professor at the University of California, Los Angeles tells Verywell. “There will not be one right answer for everyone, as people weigh risks and benefits differently,” he says.

If you have the option, driving may be safer than flying in some situations, since you’ll interact with fewer people. But not everyone can opt for a road trip—especially someone with a disability.

Hugo Lin / Verywell

But something to keep in mind: There will be fewer flights in the coming months. Southwest Airlines announced a reduction of 38,000 (36%) of flights in November with about 55,000 flights cut in December. American Airlines is removing 86,000 flights—about 50% of its normal load. The flights that remain may be more in-demand.

What This Means For You

If you can avoid holiday travel this year, staying put may be your safest course of action. But if you travel by plane, bring plenty of masks and disinfecting wipes, and keep distance in the airport. Make sure you decrease your close interaction with others where possible, and consider a quarantine once you’ve arrived at your destination.

Before You Fly

Before booking a flight, you should consider the risks unique to your living situation.

“If you are older, have young children, or live with people with risk, do not travel,” Marilyn C. Roberts, PhD, a professor at the University of Washington School of Public Health, tells Verywell.

If, after evaluating your risks, you decide to book a flight, factors like flight time and which airline you choose can mitigate risk. Mavunda suggests opting for the first flight of the morning, which tends to be emptier. Consumers should look for airlines that keep middle seats empty and don’t overbook flights.

Some of the airlines blocking seats due to COVID-19 include:

When choosing your seat, sitting toward the front of the plane is a good idea because it lets you board and exit first, decreasing exposure to others. Seating toward the back of the plane can also help you avoid crowds, but try not to book areas near the bathroom, which will attract a steady stream of people throughout the flight. Some research suggests a window seat is safest because it reduces the number of people you will come into contact with, and protects you from interaction with people moving bags in the overhead compartments, or walking down the aisles.

Before heading out for your trip, make sure you’re up to date on your vaccinations, and consider getting the flu shot before the holidays. Mavunda emphasizes the importance of immunizations for travelers, especially vaccines against respiratory infections such as influenza, pertussis, and pneumonia.

Should You Test Before You Go?

Some airlines are offering COVID-19 testing, but they’re only being offered to travelers headed to a limited number of places like Hawaii, the Bahamas, and Jamaica. American Airlines, United, and JetBlue are a few carriers that are now offering this testing. If you’re not traveling to any of the partnered locations, consider seeking a COVID-19 test outside of your airline.

Airports are working to introduce testing centers on-site. Tampa International Airport (TPA) recently announced one of the most comprehensive airport testing programs to date: Starting October 1, all passengers can take a COVID-19 test. But this isn’t the norm, so make sure to check your airport’s test offerings.

Otherwise, it may be good to have testing done prior to leaving for the airport. Roberts says to get tested before you leave and be sure you have a result prior to the trip.

“Do not use the antibody test or other tests that may be fast but less specific,” she says. “Make sure you get the results back just a few days before you go. If you know you have been exposed, do not travel for 14 days.”

Mavunda says testing isn’t a surefire way to guarantee safety, noting that test results may not be reliable.

“Monitoring symptoms and choosing an airline that is strict about keeping people with fever, cough or congestion, or known exposure to COVID off the plane is safer,” she says.

There is no evidence that having a test before traveling is helpful in preventing COVID-19 transmission, but testing may identify some people with COVID-19. If they don’t travel, that should reduce the risk of spreading COVID-19, Brewer says.

Theoretically, some combination of testing before or after flight could reduce the time of self-quarantine or isolation, Kris M. Belland, DO, an aviation medicine specialist in Texas, tells Verywell. “Again this is complicated, controversial, and potentially costly,” he says.

On The Day of Your Flight

On the day of your flight, make sure you’ve packed a stash of supplies. Roberts suggests keeping multiple masks on hand, as well as hand sanitizer. Mavunda suggests keeping antibacterial or bleach wipes handy for wiping down surfaces like public bathrooms or your seat tray on the flight.

Actually getting to the airport may be an issue depending on where you are located, Roberts says. Having a family member or friend to take you to the airport could mitigate some risk, allowing you to avoid public transportation or ride-sharing services.

Once at the airport or on the plane, try not to touch too many surfaces at the airport, and keep a distance from others at the airport, Mavunda says.

Kris M. Belland, DO

There is no risk-free travel. We can mitigate risk and do our best.

— Kris M. Belland, DO

The U.S. Transportation Security Administration (TSA) notes that travelers may be asked to adjust their masks for identification purposes. They’ve also implemented a temporary medical exemption for hand sanitizer, now allowing one oversized liquid hand sanitizer container, up to 12 ounces per passenger, in carry-on bags.

You’ll be asked to place any belts and personal items from your pockets in your carry-on bag instead of bins. And any carry-on food should be placed in a clear plastic bag and removed from your luggage. Food items often trigger an alarm during the screening process, so separating the food from the carry-on bag lessens the likelihood that a TSA officer will need to open the carry-on bag and remove your food items for a closer inspection. 

Safety During Your Flight

There have been contradicting reports on whether the risk of contracting COVID-19 during air travel is low. But generally, experts agree there are actions you can take to mitigate risks.

Before getting on the plane, and once getting off, Roberts recommends avoiding crowding at the entrance to the aircraft. Once at your seat, try to stay put for the remainder of the flight to minimize contact with others. If you’re going to eat or drink on the flight, bring your own items, Mavunda says.

“If possible, do not eat on the flight, as that would require taking the mask off,” Roberts says.

Once You Arrive

Where you stay is an important factor in staying safe. Hotels are safe as long as they are being cautious about their cleaning practices, requiring guests to wear masks in public spaces, and allowing enough space for social distancing, Mavunda notes. Before making a hotel reservation, call ahead, and make sure they’re taking the proper COVID-19 safety measures.

Mavunda suggests that staying with family or friends may be safer overall, especially if you know they are healthy and following isolation guidelines.

Ideally, if you’re flying from an area with a high prevalence of COVID-19 cases, you should quarantine upon arrival. Quarantining with the family you are visiting may be necessary, Mavunda says.

“Despite all the precautions one takes, currently, in the U.S. and in many countries around the world, the risk of exposure to COVID-19 is there,” Mavunda says. “That is why quarantining may be necessary, both at the destination you are traveling to and after return.”

If you’re considering getting tested for COVID-19 once you’ve arrived, look to see if the area offers any tests with rapid results.

Returning From Your Trip

Once you return from your trip, it may be a good idea to quarantine in case you were exposed to the virus on your trip. You may not have symptoms, but could still be contagious, Roberts says.

Anyone who has a known exposure to someone with COVID-19 should definitely go into quarantine, Brewer says.

“If there is no history of COVID-19 exposure, going into quarantine is not always necessary just because of travel,” he says. “It depends on the risk for COVID-19 infection in the place the traveler is leaving from and arriving to.”

For example, Brewer says a person traveling from New Zealand to Los Angeles may not need to quarantine on arrival as there is little to no COVID-19 transmission currently happening in the country. However, a traveler from Los Angeles should quarantine upon arrival in New Zealand because Los Angeles has COVID-19 transmission.

Social distancing after any international travel is wise, Belland says. “Absolute quarantine is more effective, but not likely,” he says. “There is no risk-free travel. We can mitigate risk and do our best.”

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Thanksgiving travel: COVID-19 makes cars, planes high-risk

Determined to travel for Thanksgiving?

Doing so increases your risk of being exposed to the coronavirus and of possibly spreading it to others, experts warn. Nonetheless, millions of Americans are expected to take to the skies for the holiday. Although it marks a 48% decline from last year, AAA estimates that 2.4 million Americans will still travel by air for Thanksgiving. An additional 48 million people will travel by car, a 4% drop.

Health officials across the country are urging people to avoid nonessential travel.

“We’re actually recommending this Thanksgiving be a stay-at-home Thanksgiving,” said Barbara Ferrer, the L.A. County director of public health. “If you are going to travel, we do ask when you come back that you quarantine for 14 days.”

Gov. Gavin Newsom echoed that plea on Friday, urging Californians to not travel out of state and to quarantine if they do.

“Travel increases your chance of getting and spreading COVID-19. Staying home is the best way to protect yourself and others from COVID-19,” the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says on its website.

There’s reason to be concerned: Early this year in China, a large spike in travel around the Lunar New Year holiday accelerated the spread of the coronavirus throughout the country and beyond its borders.

Here in the U.S., coronavirus cases are rising significantly, at rates not seen previously in the pandemic. “The more cases at your destination, the more likely you are to get infected during travel and spread the virus to others when you return,” the CDC cautions.

Airports, train stations and rest stops are places where people are at risk of being exposed to the virus and it can be difficult to stay six feet away from others, as health experts strongly recommend. At airports, for example, travelers must wait in security lines and gather at gates before boarding their planes.

Once on a plane, where you sit matters. “There’s actually research on this, believe it or not: You want to sit at the window,” Dr. George Rutherford, epidemiologist and infectious diseases expert at UC San Francisco, said during a recent campus town hall. “And you want to sit as far away from the toilets as much as possible, which would minimize how often you’re near passengers walking past you…You want to be as far away from that action as possible.”

Rutherford also recommended choosing airlines that are not selling the middle seats in rows to increase distancing between passengers. “I think that’s important,” he said.

“Most viruses and other germs do not spread easily on flights because of how air circulates and is filtered on airplanes,” the CDC says. “However, social distancing is difficult on crowded flights, and sitting within six feet of others, sometimes for hours, may increase your risk of getting COVID-19.”

If you find yourself needing to take a taxi or rideshare, the CDC recommends to avoid riding with unmasked drivers or passengers; avoid touching surfaces; don’t accept free water bottles; sit as far as possible from the driver; and ask the driver to improve ventilation by opening the windows or setting the air ventilation system on non-recirculation mode, the agency said.

Bay Area health officials took an even stronger stance about car travel, saying in a statement: “Don’t share vehicles with people you don’t live with. Vehicles are small enclosed spaces where COVID-19 can spread easily between people.

“If you must share a vehicle, try to ride with the same people each time, make sure everyone wears a face covering and open the windows to maximize outdoor air circulation as much as you can,” Bay Area health officials said in a joint statement.

Those taking public transit should avoid touching surfaces, travel during non-peak hours and stay at least six feet from other travelers whenever possible. “Stay out of crowded spaces when possible, especially at transit stations and stops,” the CDC says.

Rutherford also suggested that college students not return home for the holidays this winter. But if that’s not possible, he suggested having them get tested before they depart and tested again at home with about three days between tests.

“One single test is not going to do it. You got to get tested twice,” Rutherford said.

A single negative test is not proof that someone is not infected. If a person is tested shortly after becoming infected and before the virus has reproduced enough copies of itself, a test could fail to detect the virus and produce a false negative result.

At the University of Notre Dame in Indiana, campus officials voiced dismay at students swarming the football field to celebrate an upset victory over Clemson University. The university is now mandating that students get tested for the virus before returning home at the end of the semester and are threatening to tie up the students’ registration for the next semester if they don’t get tested before leaving the campus near South Bend, Ind.

“You may not leave the South Bend area until you receive the results of your exit test,” the campus said.

“Obviously, the preference is for people not to be flying home for the holidays — for students or for others — at this point in time,” said Ferrer, the L.A. County director of public health.

She said that some colleges are recommending that if students do return home for Thanksgiving, they stay home for the rest of the year and finish up the rest of the semester remotely online “so that you’re not really exposing lots more people when you come back … to finish out the semester.”

The L.A. County recommendation to quarantine for 14 days when returning from travel means staying at home as much as possible, and not leaving to go to the grocery store or to restaurants. Instead, people in quarantine should order food to be delivered, Ferrer said.

During quarantine, you can go out for a walk by yourself, said Ferrer, as long as you don’t come in contact with other people. “We don’t want you go to restaurants and sitting and eating outside. And we don’t want you going into retail establishments, either, when we’ve asked you to quarantine.”

“The tighter you can restrict your activities over those 14 days, the better off we all are,” Ferrer said.

Similarly, health officials in the Bay Area strongly recommend self-quarantining for 14 days after returning to the region if a traveler’s activities put them at higher risk for infection. That can include traveling on planes and other public transit where face masks were not worn at all times by everyone or being within six feet of people outside your nuclear family if anyone was not wearing a mask.

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Thanksgiving eve was the busiest air travel day of the pandemic, despite health warnings – Washington Post

Thanksgiving eve was the busiest air travel day of the pandemic, despite health warnings  Washington Post

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The best safety tip for Thanksgiving travel this year: Don’t

For several weeks now, public health officials in Illinois have called on residents to forgo large Thanksgiving events and instead limit gather

ings to immediate family inside their home to minimize the exposure risk to rising cases of COVID-19.

On Thursday, the Centers for Disease Control urged people to avoid travel for the holiday.

“At the individual household level, what’s at stake is basically the increased chance of one of your loved ones becoming sick and then being hospitalized and dying,” said Henry Walke, the CDC’s COVID-19 incident manager.

Despite those warnings, many families plan to travel across the suburbs or across the country to celebrate the holiday. For those ready to hit the road or the skies, we strongly urge reconsidering — for your safety and that of family and friends and anyone you encounter with along the way. Those unable to do that must take precautions to protect themselves and others.

More than 600,000 cases in Illinois and more than 11,000 deaths underscore the fact that lives will be affected by that decision.

As anyone who has traveled during the holiday season knows, it can be difficult under the best circumstances — and what we have now is anything but ideal.

Add an easily spreadable respiratory virus to bustling airport terminals and airplanes packed with close-together seating, and crowded restrooms and dining areas at busy turnpike rest stops — including many people not wearing masks and not practicing social distancing — and the stage is set for potential super-spreader events that will launch the disease across state lines.



After eight months of seeing how COVID-19 has decimated businesses, the economy, families and lives, that’s a frightening scenario. Syndicated columnist Connie Schultz laid out the stakes in her column this week: This is one year when we can best show our love for family and friends by avoiding them.

AAA — The Auto Club Group forecasts far fewer people will travel for Thanksgiving because of the pandemic. In all, 50.6 million Americans will travel, down from 56 million a year ago. Air travel volume will be nearly half of last year at 2.4 million nationally, the largest one-year decrease on record.

While those numbers represent steep declines, they still mean millions of chances for virus transmission.

“AAA acknowledges that the decision to travel is a personal one,” said Molly Hart, spokesperson for AAA. “The CDC says staying at home is the best way to stop the spread of COVID-19. For those who still decide to travel, we urge you to take every precaution possible to protect yourself and others.”

Those precautions include consistent use of face masks, combined with social distancing and regular hand-washing. Pack face masks, disinfecting wipes, hand sanitizer and a thermometer to monitor your health. When flying, be sure to wipe down your seat, armrest, belt buckle and tray table using disinfecting wipes. In the car, pack water and extra snacks to reduce the need to stop.

To make family gatherings safer: host outside, if possible, or with some open windows; limit time without masks to actual dining; set up a socially distanced dining arrangement; shorten the get-together time; Zoom with out-of-town relatives and friends.

Take responsibility for reducing risks and keeping Thanksgiving safe for yourself and others.


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Fauci warns Thanksgiving travel could make current Covid surge worse

WASHINGTON — Dr. Anthony Fauci, the government’s leading infectious disease expert, warned that the travel-heavy Thanksgiving holiday could make the current surge in Covid-19 cases even worse as the nation heads into December.

Appearing on NBC News’ “Meet the Press” Sunday, Fauci said that public health officials “tried to get the word out for people, as difficult as it is, to really not have large gatherings” during the holiday due to concerns that the celebrations could exacerbate the coronavirus spread.

“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.

“I don’t want to frighten people except to say it’s not too late at all for us to do something about this,” he added, urging Americans to be careful when they travel back home and upon arriving, and to take proven steps like social distancing and wearing masks.

It can sometimes take two weeks for infected people to develop symptoms, and asymptomatic people can spread the virus without knowing they have it. So Fauci said the “dynamics of an outbreak” show a three-to-five-week lag between serious mitigation efforts and the actual curbing of infection rates.

While the first wave of vaccinations could start in America within a matter of weeks, Fauci said that, for now, “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.”

Covid-19 cases and deaths in the U.S. have been accelerating in recent weeks. There have been more than 4 million cases and 35,000 deaths attributed to the virus in the month of November alone. Overall, America has had 13.3 million coronavirus cases and 267,000 deaths attributable to the virus, according to an NBC News analysis.

Despite a mid-November warning from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention encouraging Americans not to travel during Thanksgiving, air travel broke pandemic records, with 6.8 million people traveling through airports in the seven days ahead of the holiday.

The already accelerating caseload, combined with the potential for another surge of cases, comes as hospitals across the country are sounding the alarm about overloading the system’s capacity.

Fauci said that he is concerned about the nation’s hospitals, noting that he received calls last night from colleagues across the country “pleading for advice” amid the “significant stresses on the hospital and health care delivery systems.”

While he explicitly said he was not calling for a national lockdown, Fauci said at the local level, Americans could “blunt” the surge’s effects on the hospital system by taking mitigation steps “short of locking down so we don’t precipitate the necessity of locking down.”

The surge in cases comes amid promising news about a coronavirus vaccine, with both public health officials and the federal government planning to begin the first wave of vaccinations in December. Fauci said that while the “exact” recommendations for scheduling groups to receive vaccinations have not been finalized, “health care workers are going to be among” those first in line for the vaccines.

He pointed to the country’s success in distributing annual flu vaccines as “the reason we should feel more confident” about the ability to send the needed vaccine across America.

“The part about 300 million doses getting shipped is going to get taken care of by people who know how to do that,” he said. “The part at the distal end, namely, getting it into people’s arms, is going to be more challenging than a regular flu season, it would be foolish to deny that. But I think it’s going to be able to get done because the local people have done that in the past. Hopefully, they’ll get the resources to help them to do that.”

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White House testing czar says Americans who traveled during Thanksgiving should get tested

There was a concern entering and coming out of the Thanksgiving holiday as people travelled and congregated, which was why experts tried to get out the message that people shouldn’t have large gatherings but to keep it confined to their immediate households, Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases told NBC on Sunday.

“But, you know people are not always going to do that so what we expect unfortunately, as we go to the next couple of weeks into December, that we might see a surge superimposed upon that surge that we’re already in,” Fauci said. 

Fauci said that he didn’t want to frighten people by giving this message, “except to say it is not too late at all for us to do something about this, because as we travel back to be careful when we go back to where we are, to just continue to do the things that we’ve been talking about.”  

He said that it is known that something can be done about the infection curve particularly going in to the colder season, by doing things like mitigating with masks, distance and not having crowds or congregate settings. 

When asked whether there would be more dire warnings about travel preparing for Christmas and New Year’s, Fauci said “I think we’re going to be faced with another situation, we’re going to have to make decisions as a nation, state, city and family, that we’re in a very difficult time and we’re going to have to do the kinds of restrictions of things we would like to have done, particularly in this holiday season.” 

This is because, Fauci said, “we’re entering into what really is a precarious situation because we’re in the middle of a steep slope.” 

There is light at the end of the tunnel, though, he said, because vaccines will be seen soon, “we likely, almost certainly, are going to be vaccinating a portion of the individuals in the first priority before the end of December.” Going in to January, February and March, more and more people will be being vaccinated. 

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