Fauci says coronavirus infections during the Christmas holiday could be even worse than Thanksgiving

COVID-19 during Christmas won't be easy, even as children celebrate the holiday
Photo via Baker County Tourism Travel Baker County/Flickr (CC BY-ND 2.0)

The spread of COVID-19 will likely get far worse during the Christmas season, according to the nation’s top disease expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci.

The U.S. is still in the midst of dealing with the fallout from the Thanksgiving holiday. Against expert advice, many Americans chose to travel for the holiday, and a sharp rise in cases closely followed. The Sunday following Thanksgiving, airlines experienced the most passengers on flights since March, when the pandemic began. The effects of this are yet to be entirely felt, but the nation is now seeing peak infections at more than 200,000 per day with deaths surpassing 3,000 per day. Many hospitals nationwide are well on the way to being overwhelmed.

So far in the pandemic, the U.S. has reported more than 15.6 million infections and nearly 300,000 deaths, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. Some states continue to resist statewide mask mandates, including Arizona, Florida, and South Dakota. 

Fauci believes that December and January will see higher case loads “because it’s a longer holiday,” according to an interview with CNN. “We’re at a very critical time,” he said. “We’ve got to not walk away from the facts and the data. This is tough going for all of us.”

Fauci pointed out that many people tend to work the days leading up to and following Thanksgiving, but this is less often the case with Christmas. The week between Christmas and New Year’s Day is often treated as an extended holiday. This will likely contribute to COVID-19 infections during Christmas time, as people take risks while visiting friends and families (though there are plenty of virtual activities that you can substitute for in-person get-togethers).

Former Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Scott Gottlieb noted that the U.S. could reach 400,000 deaths by the end of January if what experts anticipate comes true. “As bad as things are right now, they’re going to get a lot worse,” he said.

Read more pandemic holiday news:

Sources: Bloomberg, BBC, CBS, Johns Hopkins

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