Physician Predicts a Surge in COVID-19 Cases After Thanksgiving


Ayden Nguyen, Writer

Dr. James Phillips is the chief of disaster medicine at George Washington University Hospital and states that he is “terrified” to see what will happen after Thanksgiving. “We’re going to see an unprecedented surge of cases following Thanksgiving this year, and if people don’t learn from Thanksgiving, we’re going to see it after Christmas as well,” Phillips said.


There are many indications that lead us to believe that Dr. Phillips is correct. About a week after the United States hit 100,000 new cases in one day, it reported 184,000 infections. The number of hospitalized patients also reached record high for the fourth time with 68,500 in hospitals nationwide. Additionally, at least 3 times in the past week, more than 1,300 people have died. “Things are going to get much, much worse,” said Dr. Leana Wen, a CNN medical analyst, “We have this firestorm of coronavirus all across the country. It’s not one or two hotspots, the entire country is a hotspot of coronavirus infection.”


In the meantime, governors around the country have put more precautionary measures. Governor Michelle Grisham of New Mexico announced that there will be a temporary statewide closing. People were only allowed to travel for essential activities like grocery shopping and emergency medical care. Governor Kate Brown also put the whole state of Oregon on a two week lockdown. New restrictions include limiting gatherings to 6 people, working from home, only takeout or delivery food, and others. Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson created the winter COVID-19 task force and New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said that there will be an urgent meeting with 6 northeastern state governors. The Navajo Nation also will put in stricter measures to ensure people’s safety. This includes a stay at home order, closure of government offices except for essential employees, and virtual learning. “We are inching closer and closer to a major public health crisis in which we could potentially see our hospitals filling up with patients,” Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez said, “Our health care system on the Navajo Nation cannot sustain a long term surge in COVID-19 cases.” 


“This is a grim day for the country, because we’re seeing cases skyrocketing, we’re seeing hospitals fill up and we’re also seeing the death toll march up,” said Vivek Murthy, co-chair of President-elect Joe Biden’s COVID-19 advisory board, “We’re at a point now, even pre-Thanksgiving, where we are surging beyond any level that we have seen over the last eight months.” As the holidays approach, it is important for people to take safety measures like wearing masks, social distancing, and washing our hands. “If you’re thinking about going home for Thanksgiving, ask yourself if you can observe these kinds of precautionary practices, because if you can’t, then you may be putting yourself and others at risk,” said Murthy. Health experts encourage people to wear masks and quarantine before going to see family members. Still, they believe that the holiday gatherings will create a surge in COVID-19 cases.


Additionally, the country’s health care system has been under pressure because of the high number of new COVID-19 cases. Only about 8.5% of North Dakota’s hospital beds are available and 421 who tested positive for the virus have been hospitalized. Furthermore, 50 patients are in Intensive Care Units(ICU). “Since the beginning, we’ve taken a data driven approach to our pandemic response, focusing on saving lives and livelihoods,” said Governor Doug Burgum, “Right now, the data demands a higher level of mitigation efforts to reverse these dangerous trends, to slow the spread of this virus and to avoid the need for economic shutdowns.”


Once a vaccine is approved, it will be distributed throughout the United States based on population. Pfizer announced that their early data for their vaccine has shown to be more than 90% more effective. They are expected to apply for emergency use authorization(EUA) from the United States Food and Drug Administration(FDA). “We expect to have tens of millions of doses immediately following EUA and we will distribute them as soon as the FDA applies the EUA,” said General Gustave Perna, “We will do that within 24 hours of the EUA.”


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