PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — With Thanksgiving now in the rearview mirror, medical experts are warning another coronavirus surge could be on the horizon.
The warning comes as a record number of travelers hit the road for the holiday at the time infection rates were already skyrocketing
Despite warnings from the CDC, millions of Americans still traveled this Thanksgiving holiday. More than 1.1 million people passed through TSA on Sunday, the highest daily number since the pandemic began in March.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told Meet the Press, “What we expect, unfortunately, as we go for the next couple of weeks into December, that we might see a surge superimposed upon that surge we are already in.”
Dr. Deborah Birx emphasized the importance of testing, telling Face the Nation on Sunday, “We’re really asking governors and mayors to make testing more available, so we can prevent people having to be hospitalized. But obviously, we’re deeply worried. We’re over 90,000 inpatients right now.”
In Pennsylvania, anyone who leaves the state is required to quarantine for 14 days unless they test negative for COVID-19. But local doctors say when you get the test matters, too.
Dr. Richard Zimmerman, a professor of family medicine at the University of Pittsburgh, said, “A serial interval is the time one person gives it to another. In the context of households, that has typically been about a week. And I give that information to help people realize when they’re most at risk.”
In regards to testing, Allegheny Health Network’s Dr. Nathan Shively said, “That should not be over-reassurance that they couldn’t develop symptoms or they couldn’t develop a positive test.”
Medical experts also encourage holiday travelers to tell their employers immediately before returning to work. And with the holiday season just beginning, some doctors fear that travel and gatherings could have a sobering impact, not only on hospitalizations, but staffing to care for those patients.
“It’s certainly a concern that the strain on our health care system will only increase as time moves on,” said Shively.
Medical experts say they will not know for two weeks just how big the impact of Thanksgiving travel was on our case numbers.
Allegheny County Health Department Director Dr. Debra Bogen released the following statement on Monday:
Thank you to everyone who changed their plans this weekend and celebrated safely.
I know many people decided to travel over Thanksgiving weekend or spent time with people who don’t live with them, in the face of stern advisories from myself and Dr. Levine. I hope you took precautions to stay as safe as possible like wearing masks, keeping at least 6 feet apart and staying outside despite making the risky decision to gather with others. Please monitor yourself for symptoms of COVID-19 over the coming days. Seek testing if you start to feel ill and avoid all others while you recover.
I expect to see a rise in new cases of COVID-19 from Thanksgiving and remained concerned that if our cases continue to rise at this rate, it will strain the capacity and staff of our region’s hospitals.