The Slatest

Fauci Warns of “Surge Upon a Surge” of Coronavirus Infections After Thanksgiving

Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, speaks during a White House Coronavirus Task Force press briefing in the James Brady Press Briefing Room at the White House on November 19, 2020 in Washington, D.C.
Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, speaks during a White House Coronavirus Task Force press briefing in the James Brady Press Briefing Room at the White House on November 19, 2020 in Washington, D.C. Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images

Anthony Fauci did not mince words Sunday, warning that the United States is headed for a difficult holiday season with the coronavirus pandemic, making clear the restrictions aren’t going away anytime soon. “When you have the kind of inflection that we have, it doesn’t all of a sudden turn around like that,” Fauci told ABC’s Martha Raddatz on This Week. “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, Martha, we may see a surge upon a surge.” The nation’s top infectious disease expert sounded the same note on NBC’s Meet the Press, warning of a possible “surge superimposed on the surge we are already in.”

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The numbers of cases and hospitalizations are on the rise and officials have warned things are likely to get worse in the coming weeks. The total number of COVID-19 cases in November passed the four-million mark Saturday, which was more than double the 1.9 million registered in October. “We said that these things would happen as we got into the cold weather and as we began traveling, and they’ve happened,” Fauci said. Numbers have been a bit skewed in the past few days due to the holiday but experts largely agree they will keep increasing at least in part due to the way in which millions of Americans ignored the advice of public health experts and decided to travel for the Thanksgiving holiday. “The travel that has been done has been done,” Fauci said. “Having said that, we have to be careful now because there almost certainly is going to be an uptick because of what has happened with the travel.”

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Still, Fauci said, it isn’t “too late” to help avoid spreading the virus. Those who traveled need to be serious about wearing masks and remain socially distant from others in the coming weeks. That could also help avoid more restrictions in the future. “We’ve got to realize that we do have within our capability to be able to blunt that by doing the simple things that we talk about short of locking down, so we don’t precipitate the necessity of locking down,” Fauci said.

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When asked about schools, Fauci said his recommendation has always been to “close the bars and keep the schools open.” Children don’t really spread the virus that much, “not like one would have suspected,” Fauci said. “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.” What’s more important in increasing infections are “the bars, the restaurants where you have capacity seating indoors without masks, those are the things that drive the community spread, not the schools.”

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