Coronavirus-ravaged America is bracing for a disastrous new spike in cases in the wake of the recent Thanksgiving holiday.
The US has long led the world in both the overall number of COVID-19 cases and the associated death toll, with Johns Hopkins University estimating the country has been hit with 13,324,717 cases and 266,534 deaths during the pandemic so far.
There has also been a concerning major surge during November, when cases passed 4.1 million with more than 25,500 deaths recorded in recent weeks.
And there are now fears America’s daily death toll could double to 4000 within just 10 days due to the double whammy of Thanksgiving and the colder winter weather.
In fact, virus experts are now preparing for a fresh surge as a direct result of cooler temperatures and last Thursday’s Thanksgiving break, which saw countless Americans travel during the pandemic in breach of official advice.
Dr Leana Wen, a visiting professor at George Washington University Milken Institute School of Public Health, told CNN last week the US could not afford to let its guard down.
“The vaccines will make a big difference in the spring and the summer; they’re not going to make a difference right now,” she said.
“If anything, we are rounding the corner into a calamity. We’re soon going to exceed well more than 2000 deaths, maybe 3000, 4000 deaths every single day here in the US.”
And speaking to ABC’s This Week, US infectious disease expert Dr Anthony Fauci said medics were expecting to see new coronavirus clusters emerge just before Christmas.
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“When you have the kind of infection that we have, it doesn’t all of a sudden turn around like that,” Dr Fauci told the program.
“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.”
He urged those who had ignored public health advice to travel during the Thanksgiving holiday to quarantine themselves if possible to reduce infections.
However, in another interview with NBC’s Meet the Press, Dr Fauci insisted it was “not too late” to slow the spread, urging Americans to wear masks and practice social distancing in public to avoid potential future lockdowns.
“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,” he said.
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But while the US has been devastated by the coronavirus pandemic, there is some hope on the horizon, with a vaccine expected to be rolled out imminently and with health care workers first in line.
“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,” Dr Fauci 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.”
This week, the Advisory Committee on Immunisation Practices will meet with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to discuss the vaccine’s roll out.