Americans who traveled to gather with multiple generations for traditional Thanksgiving dinners should assume that they passed along the coronavirus along with the gravy, according to White House Coronavirus Task Force Coordinator Dr. Deborah Birx.
“We know people may have made mistakes over the Thanksgiving time period. So if you’re young and you gathered, you need to be tested about five to 10 days later. But you need to assume that you’re infected and not go near your grandparents and aunts and others without a mask,” Birx said.
“We’re really asking families to even mask indoors if they chose to gather during Thanksgiving and others went across the country or even into the next state. And 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,” she said.
Birx said her concerns are based on the fact that there are more virus cases now than in the spring.
“We’re entering this post-Thanksgiving surge with three, four and 10 times as much disease across the country. And so that’s what worries us the most. We saw what happened post-Memorial Day. Now we are deeply worried about what could happen post-Thanksgiving because the number of cases, 25,000 versus 180,000 a day, that’s why we are deeply concerned,” she said.
“It looked like things were starting to improve in our Northern Plains states. And now with Thanksgiving, we’re worried that all of that will be reversed,” she said, adding that “now we could have a fourth surge.”
Birx said masks are the key to survival.
“First, what we do know works is mask mandates, mask requirements. In states that did those or mayors or counties that did that, we can see a really significant difference in not only cases but hospitalizations and fatalities. And so starting with mask mandates and masking requirements absolutely key, followed by if you have high case numbers and you’re seeing increased hospitalizations, the first thing you should do is close spaces where people cannot wear a mask,” she said.
“And we know where that is. That’s bars and indoor restaurants. Reduce capacity if needed. You may have to even close them. We have seen that that works. That’s what Arizona did. And that’s where Arizona got control. Arizona is in the position that they need to be really considering this again because their case numbers are up where they were in the summer.”
Birx told viewers that “this is the moment to protect yourself and your family.”
“And 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 restrictive. You need to not go to these places. You need to protect your family now and really watch,” she said.
Birx closed by repeating her claim that Americans who traveled over the holiday should presume they have the virus.
“If your family traveled, you have to assume that you are exposed and you became infected and you really need to get tested in the next week and you need to avoid anyone in your family with comorbidities or over 65,” she said.
Predictions of a new surge in virus cases also came from Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, during an appearance on ABC’s “This Week.”
Fauci said infection rates would not “all of a sudden turn around,” according to the Associated Press.
“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 said.
However, in discussing reopening schools, he said the spread of the virus “among children and from children is not really very big at all, not like one would have suspected. So let’s try to get the kids back, but let’s try to mitigate the things that maintain and just push the kind of community spread that we’re trying to avoid,” he said.
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