How will Labor Day celebrations affect coronavirus cases in the fall and winter?

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Photo via Kheel Center/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

The Labor Day coronavirus response this weekend will be a key factor in America’s fight against COVID-19 during the next few months. The director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, Dr. Anthony Fauci, said Labor Day would be “key in determining whether the U.S. gets a ‘running start’ at containing the coronavirus this fall,” according to audio obtained by the Associated Press

In a phone call with state governors, Dr. Fauci said it is vital that Americans follow safety guidelines while celebrating the holiday on Sept. 7. Those who plan to celebrate should wash their hands often, practice social distancing, wear masks, avoid crowds and superspreader events, and congregate in outdoor areas. 

Fauci said he has a “great deal of faith in the American people” to follow these basic precautions, MarketWatch reported

Fauci also specifically said Americans should avoid a replay of what happened during previous holiday weekends. 

One of the biggest events of the long weekend has already taken action, though. The Kentucky Derby, which was moved from the first Saturday of May to the first Saturday of September because of the pandemic, won’t allow fans into Churchill Downs because of the coronavirus threat.

After the Fourth of July, NBC News reported big crowds across the country despite COVID-19 surges nationwide. In June, health experts found that 14 states saw an increase in coronavirus hospitalizations since Memorial Day weekend, according to CNBC News

Experts pinpoint Memorial Day as the moment when COVID-19 infections began to surge in California, which has the most cases in the U.S. with more than 700,000 cases, as of early September.

Health experts are already concerned about what the fall could bring. For months, Fauci and other officials have warned that the U.S. could experience a “second wave” of COVID-19 surges. Experts are also worried about a “twindemic,” or an overlap of the annual flu season with the COVID-19 pandemic, and how it could easily overwhelm the medical industry. 

Sources: USA Today, MarketWatch, NBC News, CNBC News, KTLA

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