As COVID-19 hospitalizations are nearing the highest they’ve ever been, health experts are urging Americans who’ve traveled over Thanksgiving to assume they’ve been exposed to coronavirus and get tested.
White House coronavirus task force coordinator Dr. Deborah Birx is urging all Americans who traveled during the Thanksgiving holiday to get tested.
“If your family traveled, you have to assume that you were exposed and you became infected,” Dr. Birx told CBS on Sunday.
“If you’re young and you gathered, you need to be tested about five to 10 days later,” Birx continued. “But you need to assume that you’re infected and not go near your grandparents and aunts and others without a mask.”
She also had a special warning for people over 65.
“If you’re over 65 or you have comorbidities and you gathered at Thanksgiving – if you develop any symptoms, you need to be tested immediately,” Birx added.
The nation’s top infectious disease expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci, warned of increasing surges due to cold weather and Americans traveling for the holidays.
“We may see a surge upon a surge,” Dr. Anthony Fauci said during an interview with ABC. “We don’t want to frighten people but that’s just the reality.”
On Sunday, more people passed through airport security than on any other single day since the coronavirus pandemic impacted air travel, according to the Transportation Security Administration (TSA).
Also on Sunday, the TSA said it screened 1.17 million people, as many Americans headed home from their Thanksgiving travels.
These figures indicate that more than 9.4 million people were screened during the Thanksgiving travel window, which began the Friday before the holiday, November 20, according to CNN, despite health officials and the CDC warning Americans to avoid travel and gatherings.
The number of Americans hospitalized daily due to COVID-19 infection is rapidly nearing 100,000. It represents the highest level since the pandemic began, CNN reported.
More than 91,500 people were hospitalized with the virus on Saturday, with 18,000 in intensive care units, according to data compiled by the COVID Tracking Project, NPR reported.
On Saturday, in California, more people were hospitalized in the state than at any other point since the pandemic began, according to health officials, The Hill reported. Slightly over 7,400 people were hospitalized across the state on Saturday, according to a report by the Los Angeles Times.
Dr. Birx reminded Americans that staying safe and protecting others is a matter of personal responsibility, and should not be left to lawmakers.
“To every American, this is the moment to protect yourself and your family,” Birx said. “So if your governor or your mayor isn’t doing the policies that we know are critical — masking, physical distancing, avoiding bars, avoiding crowded indoor areas — if those restrictions don’t exist in your state, you need to take it upon yourself to be restricted. You need to not go to these places. You need to protect your family now.”