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Health officials warn of post-Thanksgiving COVID-19 case surge

Public health experts took to the Sunday political shows to warn the coronavirus pandemic was likely to worsen in the weeks ahead in the wake of the Thanksgiving holiday.

"The travel that has been done has been done," Anthony Fauci, the nation's top infectious diseases expert, said on ABC's "This Week." "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."

Travel rates hit an eight-month high last Wednesday, despite a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommendation against gathering for the holidays with people from outside one's household.

Fauci expressed sympathy for those experiencing "COVID fatigue" but warned of a similar scenario during the Christmas season.

"I can't see how we're not gonna have the same thing because when you have the kind of infection that we have, it doesn't all of a sudden turn around like that," he said. "So clearly in the next few weeks, we're gonna 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."

Fauci added that he did not anticipate a "relaxation" of CDC recommendations in the near future. He told NBC's "Meet the Press" that the increase in U.S. cases would be almost vertical if shown on a graph. 

Fauci's colleague on the White House coronavirus task force, Deborah Birx, similarly warned that officials were "deeply worried" about infection rates after the holiday, noting that "[w]e're entering this post-Thanksgiving surge with three, four and 10 times as much disease across the country." 

"If you're young and you gathered [for Thanksgiving], you need to be tested about 5 to 10 days later, but you need to assume you're infected and not go near your grandparents and others without a mask," she said.

In the meantime, White House testing czar Adm. Brett Giroir said the best option for the U.S. was to adhere to mask and social distancing protocols.

"It's gotta be the smart policies and universal mask wearing, ... avoidance of those spaces with testing is how we get out of the pandemic," Giroir said on CNN's "State of the Union" Sunday. "Testing alone will never solve this issue. You got to have both."

U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams urged Americans to continue complying with public health guidelines as the country prepares to roll out coronavirus vaccines in the weeks ahead.

Pfizer and Moderna are set to submit their respective candidates to the Food and Drug Administration for emergency use authorizations in mid-December, with the front-line workers, the elderly and at-risk people likely being prioritized.

"We are mere weeks away from starting to vaccinate the vulnerable and we can significantly protect people who are at risk for the virus, so hang on just a little bit longer," Adams said on "Fox News Sunday."

"I want to be straight with the American people, it's going to get worse over the next several weeks, but the actions that we take in the next several days will determine how bad it is or whether or not we continue to flatten our curve," Adams told guest host Bret Baier.

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