Story at a glance
- Anthony Fauci stated that public health restrictions won’t ease up as winter continues.
- Travel hit comparable pre-pandemic highs over the Thanksgiving holiday.
Following the heavy volume of holiday travel over the Thanksgiving weekend, new COVID-19 cases are still climbing, up about 8 percent over the past two weeks and poised to increase, per national data.
Despite multiple states enacting or reenacting stricter public health protocols, leading infectious diseases expert and head of the National Institute of Allergies and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) Anthony Fauci does not believe they will be lifted anytime soon.
"When you have the kind of inflection that we have, it doesn't all of a sudden turn around like that," he told ABC reporters, “Clearly in the next few weeks, we're gonna have the same sort of thing.”
Regardless, Fauci predicts that in the coming days and weeks, the U.S. "may see a surge upon a surge" of new cases after Thanksgiving, saying "we don't want to frighten people, but that's just the reality."
This comes as recent data suggests that the day before Thanksgiving, on Nov. 25, almost 1.1 million travelers passed through Transportation Security Administration (TSA) checkpoints at airports across the country. This is the highest volume of travelers seen since March.
Earlier, on Nov. 20 and 22, another 1 million people were recorded going through TSA checkpoints.
Fauci attributes the current and continuing rise of new cases to cold weather and holiday gatherings.
"We said that these things would happen, as we got into the cold weather and as we began traveling, and they've happened. It's going to happen again,” he stated.
For those who are returning from gatherings and may have been exposed to COVID-19, Fauci urges people “to be really careful” in trying to prevent further transmission upon returning home. Getting tested and quarantining are optimal measures to undertake.
Although the upcoming winter weeks are likely to be difficult, Fauci noted that the positive developments with several COVID-19 vaccine candidates are a good sign.
"Vaccines are really right on the horizon. We'll be having vaccines available for the higher-priority people towards the middle and end of December and as we get into January and February," he said.
Most recently, vaccine manufacturer Moderna is the latest company to submit it’s COVID-19 vaccine to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for its Emergency Use Authorization (EUA). It was one of the candidates that posted an efficacy rate of more than 90 percent in clinical trials.