Fauci warns about Thanksgiving airport crowding

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WASHINGTON — The United States’ top infectious diseases expert says he’s worried that crowding at U.S. airports from Thanksgiving travel could lead to a perilous situation as COVID-19 cases surge.

Dr. Anthony Fauci told CBS’ “Face the Nation” on Sunday that the “people at airports” despite federal guidance to avoid travel “are going to get us into even more trouble than we’re in right now.”

He noted that new COVID-19 cases from Thanksgiving won’t become evident till weeks later, making it “very difficult” as the virus spirals out of control heading into colder weather and the December holiday season.

Fauci said a substantial portion of people being hospitalized for the virus are now between the ages of 40 and 59, as well as the elderly and vulnerable.

He stressed that vaccines should become available in the coming months, but said Americans will need to “hang in there” in the meantime by taking precautions to stem the spread. That includes limiting holiday gatherings to people in the same household if possible, wearing masks, socially distancing and washing hands.

Coronavirus cases in the Triad are increasing, and the rising numbers have healthcare professionals warning you not to travel for Thanksgiving. 

“This week, we have really seen the number of patients in our hospitals increase dramatically,” said Dr. Bruce Swords, chief physician executive of Cone Health.  

In 24 hours, the Cone Heath System went from 129 positive COVID cases to 143.  

Dr. Swords says you must keep your distance when bonding with family over the holidays. 

“Minimize the congregation that you’re going to have at Thanksgiving. Keep it small. Less than 10. If you’re around people with whom you do not normally live, always wear a mask and always stay away from each other,” Dr. Swords explained. 

If you are driving to your destination, he suggests keeping the windows cracked to increase ventilation if you’re with people outside of your household.

You should also try to minimize stops. If you’re flying, plan ahead by not needing to drink or get up or touch things. Dr. Swords recommends wearing a mask and eye protection. 

He knows this holiday will be difficult for many families, but our actions will save lives. 

“Lots of us when we see our kid for the first time in weeks or months will want to hug and spend a lot of time close contact. We’ll need to do that differently,” Dr. Swords stated.  

Barbara Levine is already planning for a scaled-down celebration next week. 

“Normally, we have about 23-25 people. This will be the first time in a long time that it’s just been a small family tradition. We’ll wear masks and enjoy ourselves,” Levine told FOX8 as she finished grocery shopping at Trader Joes.  

Margaret Hazen is grateful to be having her annual small get together.  

“Not a lot of changes really. Just happy to be together and see one another,” Hazen said. 

Every day we do our part, we help protect someone else. 

“If we do that for a few short weeks, we’ll make an impact and people will live because of it,” Dr. Swords concluded.  

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