By Quentin Fottrell, MarketWatch
Dr. Fauci warned Monday that Christmas could create another COVID-19 surge.
Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases for the past three decades, told CBS News during the Milken Institute’s Future of Health Summit that people should avoid travel this month.
As hospitals await an increase in cases after Thanksgiving, he said, “For the first time in more than 30 years, I’m not spending the Christmas holidays with my daughters.”
(Fauci had said much the same in October, with Thanksgiving on the horizon, about gathering only on Zoom /zigman2/quotes/211319643/composite ZM +0.36% with family, aside from his wife of 35 years.)
The post-Thanksgiving case increase is expected to happen right before “the Christmas, Hanukkah potential surge,” he said.
Speaking to CNN on Monday, Fauci warned that Americans are facing a “critical time” and the next potential surge over the holidays could lead to a dark January, “This may be even more compounded because it’s a longer holiday,” he said.
Fauci, saying 10 people gathered indoors during the holidays is likely too many, also issued this stark warning to Americans in a video appearance with Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Monday:
‘We could start to see things start to get really bad in the middle of January, not only for New York state but for any state or city.’
That, he added, “could be a really dark time for us.”
Dr. Thomas Russo, the chief of infectious diseases at the University at Buffalo, told WGRZ-TV over the weekend that an increase in “bad outcomes” may take four to six weeks.
In California, hospital admissions soared 70% over the last two weeks, leaving intensive-care units with less than 10% availability in the state, and 4.2% in Southern Californian hospitals. Gov. Gavin Newsom, a Democrat, issued stay-at-home orders in regions where ICU beds fell below 15% capacity.
The U.S. set a record for COVID-19-related hospitalizations this month with more than 109,000 patients , and the number of people with the virus in ICUs has surpassed 21,200, as hospitals await a post-Thanksgiving surge in admissions and brace for more after Christmas and Hanukkah.
The New York Times COVID-19 Tracking Project calculated that hospitals serving more than 100 million Americans currently have just 15% of ICU beds still available. There has been 186,884 new cases over the last 24 hours, and infections have risen by over 10% in the last week.
Don’t miss: Here is advice for those who wish to travel
Risk factors to consider before attending a gathering include local community spread of COVID-19; exposure during travel; the location and duration of the gathering, and whether it’s indoors; the number of attendees and capacity for physical distancing; and attendees’ preventive behaviors before and during the gathering, such as mask wearing.
As of Wednesday, 73.6 million people worldwide had contracted COVID-19 and 1.6 million people had died. The U.S. had 16.7 million cases and 303,867 fatalities, according to data aggregated by Johns Hopkins University.
Coronavirus Update: U.S. suffers deadliest week from coronavirus since pandemic broke out
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