Americans should brace for a "surge upon a surge" in the coronavirus as millions of travelers return home after the Thanksgiving holiday, United States government scientist Anthony Fauci said Sunday (Nov 29).
By first vaccinating those at highest risk, he said, "we can absolutely get 80 per cent of the benefit of the vaccine by only immunizing a few percent of the population".
"Now we're entering this post-Thanksgiving surge with three, four and 10 times as much disease across the country", she said.
"There is nearly certainly going to be an uptick because of what has happened with the travel", Mr Fauci told CNN's State of the Union.
Appearing on NBC News' "Meet the Press" Sunday, Fauci said that public health officials "tried to get the word out for people, as hard as it is, to really not have large gatherings" during the holiday due to concerns that the celebrations could exacerbate the coronavirus spread. Despite health experts' call to avoid travel for the holiday, air travel hit a pandemic-era record the day before Thanksgiving.More news: India, Maldives, Sri Lanka trilateral meet on maritime security begins
"The travel that has been done has been done", Fauci told a USA news network.
And in California, Los Angeles county is imposing a new three-week lockdown from Monday, which will ban most public gatherings and limit the number of people allowed in shops at any one time. But I think it's going to be able to get done because the local people have done that in the past.
Meanwhile, Admiral Brett Giroir, who oversees United States coronavirus testing, told CNN that "hospitalisations are peaking right now at about 95,000" in the US.
Teresa Nguyen, a respiratory therapist, treats a patient inside a room for people with COVID-19 at a hospital in Hutchinson, Kan., Nov. 20, 2020.
Pfizer was using charter flights to pre-position vaccine for quick distribution once it receives U.S. emergency authorization - expected as early as December 10 - the Wall Street Journal and other media reported. Pfizer, whose vaccine is reportedly up to 95% effective, says it can have tens of millions of vaccine doses ready by December. This is the way we get out of the pandemic.More news: Not the happiest place: Disney to lay off 32,000 workers in 2021
Dr Deborah Birx, White House coronavirus response coordinator, echoed Mr Fauci's concerns, telling CBS News that people who have travelled for the holiday should avoid seeing people over the age of 65.
"About 20 per cent of all people in the hospital have Covid, so this is a really unsafe time", Mr Giroir said.
Speaking on NBC's Meet the Press programme, Dr Fauci stressed the importance of continuing to take precautions such as mask wearing and social distancing but emphasised that restrictions may be necessary to protect people over Christmas. "Now we are deeply anxious about what could happen post-Thanksgiving because the number of cases, 25,000 versus 180,000 a day, that's where - that's why we are deeply concerned", Birx said, before adding that there was some improvement in the Northern Plains states prior to the holiday.
It can sometimes take two weeks for infected people to develop symptoms, and asymptomatic people can spread the virus without knowing they have it.
Germany, once a beacon of hope in Europe's coronavirus nightmare, reached on Friday the mark of more than one million cases.More news: Cowboys coaching mistakes lead to blowout loss to Washington