Fauci:May See Surge Upon Surge of Virus11/30 06:07
The nation's top infectious disease expert said Sunday that the U.S. may see
"surge upon a surge" of the coronavirus in the weeks after Thanksgiving, and he
does not expect current recommendations around social distancing to be relaxed
(AP) -- The nation's top infectious disease expert said Sunday that the U.S.
may see "surge upon a surge" of the coronavirus in the weeks after
Thanksgiving, and he does not expect current recommendations around social
distancing to be relaxed before Christmas.
Meanwhile, in a major reversal, New York City Mayor Bill DeBlasio said the
nation's largest school system will reopen to in-person learning and increase
the number of days a week many children attend class. The announcement came
just 11 days after the Democratic mayor said schools would shut down because of
rising COVID-19 cases.
"We feel confident that we can keep schools safe," he said.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and
Infectious Diseases, told ABC's "This Week" that the level of infection in the
U.S. would not "all of a sudden turn around."
"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.
Fauci addressed the school issue, saying that spread "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.
Fauci also appeared on NBC's "Meet the Press," where he made similar
remarks, adding that it's "not too late" for people traveling home after
Thanksgiving to help curb the virus by wearing masks, staying distant from
others and avoiding large groups of people.
The number of new COVID-19 cases reported in the United States topped
200,000 for the first time Friday, according to data from Johns Hopkins
University. Since January, when the first infections were reported in the U.S.,
the nation's total number of cases has surpassed 13 million. More than 265,000
people have died.
Fauci said the arrival of vaccines offers a "light at the end of the
tunnel." This coming week, the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices
will meet with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to discuss a
rollout of the vaccine, he said.
He added that President-elect Joe Biden should focus on distributing
vaccines in an "efficient and equitable way." Fauci also said he planned to
push the new administration for a rigorous testing program.
Health care workers will likely be among the first to get the vaccine, with
the first vaccinations happening before the end of December, followed by many
more in January, February and March, he said.
"So if we can hang together as a country and do these kinds of things to
blunt these surges until we get a substantial proportion of the population
vaccinated, we can get through this," Fauci said.
Other experts agreed that the coming weeks would be difficult, especially
since so many traveled over the holiday and held in-person dinners indoors.
Dr. Deborah Birx, the White House coronavirus response coordinator, said
Sunday on CBS' "Face the Nation" that Americans who traveled this past week
should try to avoid people over 65. She said that those who were around others
for Thanksgiving "have to assume that you were exposed and you became infected
and you really need to get tested in the next week."
Meanwhile, a busy travel weekend continued, despite warnings for Americans
to stay close to home and limit their holiday gatherings.
Aside from the Thanksgiving holiday itself, anywhere from 800,000 to more
than 1 million travelers made their way through U.S. airport checkpoints on any
day during the past week, according to Transportation Security Administration
statistics. That's a far cry from the 2.3 to 2.6 million seen daily last year.
But it far surpasses the number of travelers early in the pandemic, when daily
totals fell below 100,000 on some spring days.
More COVID-19 restrictions were in store for California starting Monday. Los
Angeles County will impose a lockdown calling for its 10 million residents to
stay home. Santa Clara County, which includes San Jose, is banning all high
school, collegiate and professional sports and imposing a quarantine for anyone
traveling into the region from more than 150 miles away.
Back in New York, some elementary schools and pre-kindergarten programs will
resume classes Dec. 7, a week from Monday, the mayor said. Others will take
longer to reopen.
The plan for reopening middle and high schools is still being developed, de
About 190,000 students will be eligible to return to classrooms in the first
round of reopening, just a fraction of the more than 1 million total pupils in
the system. The great majority of parents have opted to have their kids learn
remotely by computer.
De Blasio said that many of those returning in person will be able to attend
five days of class a week, up from one to three days previously.
Elementary school students attending in person will be required to undergo
frequent testing for the virus. Previously, the city set a target of testing
20% of teachers and students in each school building once a month. Now the
testing will be weekly.
The mayor said the city was doing away with its previous trigger for closing
schools, which was when 3% or more of the virus tests conducted in the city
over a seven-day period came back positive.
New York exceeded that threshold early in November, and infections have
slightly worsened since then. More than 9,300 residents have tested positive
for the virus over the past seven days.