Coming Next: Thanksgiving COVID Surge

Healthcare experts warn that we still have not felt the full effects of the surge that’s sure to come from the Thanksgiving holiday.

It’s only going to get worse in the coming weeks. Though we have never seen anything like this current surge of Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), healthcare experts warn that we still haven’t been hit with the full effects of the disease. The United States now averages about 200,000 new cases of COVID a day. And yesterday, more than 101,000 patients were in US hospitals, a record high, according to the COVID Tracking Project. It’s the 5th consecutive day that COVID hospitalizations passed the 100,000 mark. And despite the fact that our overworked healthcare providers have a better handle on how to treat COVID patients, mortality rates are also rising to record-breaking levels. Last Wednesday, more than 2800 people died from COVID-19, according to Johns Hopkins University. Yes, a record.

In the United States, there have been about 14.8 million confirmed cases of COVID-19, while about 282,000 people have died from the disease. In the world, there have been about 67 million confirmed cases of COVID-19, while 1.5 million people have died from the disease.

Infection preventionists and other healthcare professionals just wish that the public would heed their warnings for the holidays that are still coming up: Christmas, Hanukkah, and Kwanzaa. Because many in the public did not heed their warnings about Thanksgiving. Far too many Americans traveled and mingled with loved ones.

Healthcare experts warn that we still have not felt the full effects of the surge that’s sure to come from the Thanksgiving holiday. In the words of Anthony Fauci, MD, a member of the White House Coronavirus Task Force, already overburdened healthcare workers, including infection preventionists, need to brace themselves for a surge superimposed upon the current surge. Leana Wen, MD, the medical analyst for CNN, predicts that we will see an “exponential rise in COVID-19 cases in the next few weeks.

And yes, a COVID vaccine is coming. And yes, the FDA might approve it any day now. But, no, it’s not going to get us out of this current COVID catastrophe. Deborah Birx, MD, the White House coronavirus response coordinator, told Meet the Press yesterday that only the public can save itself from this COVID-19 surge. Birx said that every state needs to warn its citizens about the Thanksgiving surge that Birx says is sure to come this week and next week. Some states are heeding that advice. Thirty-three million residents in parts of California have been told to stay home.

The mitigation strategies that Birx and other healthcare experts encourage the public to follow are all too familiar by now. Alex Azar, MD, the head of the US Department of Health and Human Services, calls them the three W’s: Wash your hands, Watch your distance, Wear face coverings.

Before the Thanksgiving holiday, Kevin Kavanagh, MD, a member of Infection Control Today®’s Editorial Advisory Board, said in a Q&A that the goal should be to not visit loved ones on this Thanksgiving so that you can visit them next Thanksgiving hopefully without fear of COVID by that point. Azar told Fox News yesterday that same goal should apply to the upcoming holidays. “We want to make sure everyone’s loved ones are there next Christmas, especially when we have so much hope of vaccines,” Azar said. But again, the vaccines won’t pull us out of this current nosedive.