Even before the holiday season was officially kicked off, surges in coronavirus cases were seen throughout the country.
The country is reaching tragic milestones quickly, surpassing 250,000 deaths earlier this month, and breaking single-day new infection records since the start of the pandemic.
A Johns Hopkins University report indicates that the US over 88,000 people hospitalized because of the virus, the highest number since March.
These staggering rates of infections and death aside, millions are traveling for Thanksgiving to be with friends and family.
Despite warnings from health experts and holiday guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Infection, travel is up, some airlines reporting being the busiest since the start of the pandemic.
Dr. Jonathan Reiner, a former medical team adviser in the White House, told CNN that the country’s infection rate could explode.
“It’s potentially the mother of all superspreader events,” he said.
Reiner indicated that the spike in infections the Midwest saw over the summer can be linked to the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally in South Dakota.
“Now imagine that on a massive scale –– people leaving from every airport in the US, and carrying the virus with them,” he said.
Health experts say getting tested before travel won’t help either. Assistant Secretary for Health Adm. Brett Giroir said that getting a negative test result isn’t an indication that it’s safe for them to travel.
A test before traveling is helpful to let someone know if they’re positive, meaning they shouldn’t travel. But, it won’t tell you in real time if you’re infected.
If a person is exposed and infected with COVID-19, and gets a test a day or two after, there may not be enough of the virus’ RNA to be detectable on a test.
“What I think I want people to understand, more importantly,” Giroir said to CNN, “is that a test that’s negative today doesn’t mean you’re going to be negative tomorrow or the next day or the following day.”
“That negative test is not a free pass to do risky behavior,” he added. People should get a test, but a negative result, “doesn’t give you a free pass,” he said.
Giroir indicated the country is “at a critical and very dangerous point in this pandemic.” He said, “It’s a dangerous situation but it’s reversible.”
Health experts and officials continue to stress the importance of wearing a mask, washing hands, and maintaining social distance as a way to decrease the spread of coronavirus.
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