The foremost infectious disease expert in the United States, Dr. Anthony Fauci, in an interview with Sunday Press the Press, warned that another spike in Covid-19 cases “superimposed on the wave we’re already in” could, by and large, come in part because of Thanksgiving .
Public health experts have warned Americans of the risk of congregating for the holiday as the US sees its worst Covid-19 surge to date – Dr. Jonathan Reiner told CNN on Tuesday that Thanksgiving could become “the mother of all superspreader events.” Despite these warnings, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) numbers suggest that more than 1 million Americans took a plane last Wednesday alone. This is the highest number since the pandemic began, and many are more likely to have spent Thanksgiving with family.
The U.S. is already breaking dismal new case records – the spike Fauci was referring to – and since it takes an infected person an average of five to six days to show symptoms, new cases due to Thanksgiving infections should emerge later this week.
But, as Vox’s German Lopez explained earlier this month, it could be a few weeks before the full effects of Thanksgiving celebrations are understood:
With the coronavirus, it takes time – days, maybe weeks – for someone to transition from being infected to having an actual test. Then it may take days or weeks for that person to end up in a hospital with severe symptoms. Deaths can last even longer if treatment fails. All of this data is like light from another galaxy that takes time to get to our eyes: it reflects infections that happened weeks ago, not today or yesterday.
According to the New York Times, the US reported an all-time high of 205,460 new Covid-19 cases in a single day on Friday. Friday was also the first day the US recorded more than 200,000 cases, less than a month after it first broke the 100,000 daily case mark on November 4. On average, the country has reported more than 162,000 cases a day for the past week.
Despite those dismal numbers, Fauci told NBC’s Chuck Todd, “I don’t want to scare people other than to say it’s not too late at all to do something about it.” Fauci said basic public health practices – wearing, distancing, and avoiding large gatherings – remain crucial to contain the spread of the coronavirus.
President Donald Trump, who infected himself in early October, has largely ceded the field in fighting the spread of the virus. Trump has repeatedly downplayed the virus and encouraged people to interact with one another as they did before the pandemic, even as Covid-19 ravages the country and Trump’s own White House and presidential campaign.
Since Election Day, White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, Secretary of State for Housing and Urban Development, Ben Carson, and President’s son, Donald Trump Jr., have all tested positive for Covid-19, as well as at least 10 other people orbiting the President a new one York Times Balance Sheet.
A number of promising vaccines are on the way
The extent of Trump’s commitment to the issue appears to be a fixation on appreciating the recent good news in the vaccine field.
“Another vaccine has just been announced. This time from Moderna, 95% effective, “Trump tweeted on November 16.” For those great “historians” please remember that these great discoveries that will end the China plague all took place on my watch! “
Another vaccine has just been announced. This time from Moderna, 95% effective. For those great “historians” please remember that these great discoveries that will end the China plague all took place on my watch!
– Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 16, 2020
Separately, Trump said in a Sunday interview with Fox News host Maria Bartiromo – his first since losing the election – that “I’ve developed vaccines that people didn’t think we’d have for five years,” one totally untrue claim.
In short, according to Vox’s Dylan Scott, the current leadership of the country, which we hold on to until Jan. 20, appears to have no plans to do anything about it as the pandemic “enters its most dangerous phase yet”.
Aside from Trump’s lending, vaccines from AstraZeneca, Moderna, and Pfizer, all of which have recently reported positive results from clinical trials, offer some measure of hope, albeit a long way off.
According to the Test Tsar of the White House, Adm. Brett Giroir, in a Sunday interview with CNN’s Dana Bash, should have enough vaccines in the US by the end of the year to immunize 20 million Americans, and we need to immunize against effects. But the American people have to do the right things until we get this vaccine widely available. “
There are still hurdles to overcome in the vaccine race. As Vox’s Umair Irfan explains, clinical trials have yet to be completed and the vaccines have yet to be approved by the Food and Drug Administration, although Moderna and Pfizer are both hoping to get emergency approval or EUAs to keep their vaccines without being used can be full approval.
However, even with an EEA there are still logistical issues. Irfan explains:
Once a vaccine is approved, a global supply chain, from the vials the vaccine is in to the syringes it is injected with, needs to be reeled in to produce large quantities of the vaccine. Manufacturers also need to ensure that vaccines remain intact and are subject to strict temperature controls from the factory to the hospitals and clinics where they are used. The process of making, distributing, and administering a vaccine can take months.
It’s also important to remember that a vaccine alone isn’t enough to end the pandemic. Measures like social distancing, good hygiene, and wearing face masks will remain essential to control the spread of Covid-19 until a vaccine is widely available. Public acceptance will also be a major issue, and health officials will have to overcome an increasing wave of vaccine reluctance.
However, all of this is in the future – and Covid-19 hospital admissions in the US are still increasing in the present. As of Saturday, more than 91,000 people had been hospitalized with Covid-19 – most of all time – and hospitals in some parts of the country are at full capacity.
In Wisconsin, increasingly overwhelmed health care workers at the University of Wisconsin published an open letter to residents of the state: “With no immediate change,” they wrote, “our hospitals will be too full to accommodate everyone with the virus and those with the virus treat other illnesses or injuries. Soon, you or someone you love may need us, but we won’t be able to provide the life saving care you need, be it with COVID-19, cancer, heart disease or any other urgent medical condition. As health care providers, we fear this will become a reality. “
Already in May of this year – a distant story from a pandemic point of view – Dr. Rick Bright, who previously ran a US vaccine research agency and is now a member of President-elect Joe Biden’s coronavirus task force, said that “2020 could be the darkest winter in modern history without better planning.” “
Now that dark winter seems to have come.
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