United States infectious disease expert Anthony Fauci has warned that the country could witness “surge upon surge” of COVID-19 cases in the upcoming weeks as million of people are travelling back to their homes after the end of Thanksgiving holiday. Talking to ABC’s This Week on Sunday, he said it was “not too late” for those yet to travel to help stem the spread of virus by using face-coverings and maintaining social distancing which he said could not be relaxed before Christmas.
Fauci with ABC’s “This Week”
“When you have the kind of inflection that we have, it doesn’t all of a sudden turn around like that,” Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told ABC’s “This Week.”
“Clearly in the next few weeks, we’re going to have the same sort of thing,” he told “This Week” co-anchor Martha Raddatz, adding that the country “may see a surge upon a surge” of new cases thanks to the busiest travel day of Thanksgiving gatherings. “We don’t want to frighten people, but that’s just the reality.”
Despite the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s encouragement to stay indoors for the event, the Transpiration Security Administration tested over 8mn people between Nov 20 and Saturday. As of Sunday morning, US COVID-19 caseload crossed 4mn in the November, doubling down on the October’s record high. More than 266,000 US citizens have died of the deadly disease since the pandemic appeared on the scene.
Thanksgiving travel could be dangerous
“We said that these things would happen, as we got into the cold weather and as we began traveling, and they’ve happened. It’s going to happen again.” Mr. Fauci said on “This Week.” “So, I cannot see, all of a sudden, a relaxation of the kinds of recommendations or restrictions because we’re getting into colder weather, and in — in an even larger holiday season as people travel to come back and forth for Christmas.”
Considering the recent spike in cases, the scientist on Sunday recommended public to be “really careful” as they return from Thanksgiving holiday, urging masses to embrace quarantines and screening.
“If they’ve been in situations outside of the family setting, in which they really don’t know the level of exposure … you’ve really got to understand the importance of trying to prevent further spread and further surge,” he said.
According to data from John Hopkins University, on Friday, the US crossed 13mn coronavirus cases with the addition of over 1mn cases in a week. Despite the grim numbers, Fauci was not tentative to struck a tone of optimism about the end of the virus.
About the vaccines
“Vaccines are really right on the horizon. We’ll be having vaccines available for the higher-priority people towards the middle and end of December and as we get into January and February,” he said when asked about by Raddatz about continued social restrictions. However, he still urged public to maintain social distancing, mask wearing and hand washing, among other measures in their fight with the disease.
The public’s acceptance of the potential antidote has been a focus of immunization initiative leaders in recent weeks; the pharmaceutical giants including Pfizer and Moderna have announced the encouraging results about their vaccines. However, recent polls suggested 2 out of 5 Americans are still not ready get a jab.
On “This Week”, Fauci said that while the government make the vaccination compulsory, “any individual group” such as business and schools could mandate it as a requirement. He further called on the administrations to engage with the local leadership to blow the anti-vaccine rhetoric.
“We’ve got to be able to get out there, get community people — who the community trusts — to show two things: The process of the development of this vaccine has been one that has been scientifically sound, safety has not been compromised, scientific integrity has not been compromised. And the process of determining whether it works, whether it’s safe and effective has been independent, by independent bodies and transparent,” Fauci said.
Over Supreme Court’s Ruling
Fauci was also asked about the Supreme Court’s ruling last week to taken down the pandemic-induced restrictions on large religious congregations in New York. – a controversial decision that shows a contrast between public safety and personal/religious freedom.
“(Legal challenges) happen… there’s nothing I can do about it.”
“I can just say, it doesn’t matter who you are, where you are — when you have congregate settings, particularly indoors, when people are not wearing masks, that is a considerable risk for acquisition and spread of infection. No matter what the circumstance is, that is a risk,” the doctor responded.
New York was also imposed the early school closures this month after assessing the sharp spread of the infection in the country largest school district. On Sunday morning the city announced the reopening of its elementary schools amid concerns that the threshold to shut-down them was lower than other public places. With a variety of options being exercised in the different states to keep schools open, Raddatz asked the top disease expert what will be his message to the upcoming administration of President-elect Joe Biden to give a more “unified response.”
A word for incoming Biden administration
“We get asked it all the time. You know, we say it — not being facetiously, as a sound bite or anything — but, you know, close the bars and keep the schools open is what we really say,” he said. “Obviously, you don’t have one size fits all. But as I said in the past … the default position should be to try as best as possible within reason to keep the children in school or to get them back to school.”
“If you mitigate the things that you know are causing spread in a very, very profound way — in a robust way — if you bring that down, you will then indirectly and ultimately protect the children in the school because the community level is determined by how things go across the board,” Fauci said.
In a similar appearance with NBC network’s “Meet the Press”, he offered same remarks, adding that it is “not too late” for people returning to their homes after Thanksgiving to help stop the transmission of pandemic by wearing masks and observing social distancing.
“So, we know we can do something about it, particularly now as we get into the colder season and as we approach the Christmas holidays,” he said.
Fauci also said the healthcare workers will be the first to get the vaccine jab.
“We likely, almost certainly, are going to be vaccinating a portion of the individuals in the first priority before the end of December, and then as we get into January and February and March, more and more,” he said.
“So, if we can hang together as a country and do these kinds of things to blunt these surges until we get a substantial proportion of the population vaccinated, we can get through this.”