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Public health experts are cautioning the US to brace for another Covid-19 surge following holiday travel, as the virus continues to spread unchecked throughout the country.
Transportation Security Administration (TSA) officials said the agency had screened 1.28 million travelers at US airports nationwide on Sunday – marking the highest number of air travelers since mid-March, Reuters reported. While this is approximately 50% fewer passengers than the same day of 2019, Sunday marked the sixth day over the previous 10 days that saw more than one million people traveling through airports alone.
“And the reason I’m concerned and my colleagues in public health are concerned also is that we very well might see a post-seasonal, in the sense of Christmas, New Year’s, surge, and, as I have described it, as a surge upon a surge, because, if you look at the slope, the incline of cases that we have experienced as we have gone into the late fall and soon-to-be-early winter, it is really quite troubling,” top US infectious disease expert Dr Anthony Fauci said Sunday on CNN.
“We are really at a very critical point.”
There have been 19,145,982 cases in the US and 333,140 deaths, Johns Hopkins University’s most recent data indicate; Tennessee and California have become the new US centers, with 119.7 and 95.7 people infected per 100,000, respectively.
New York City and state, which got coronavirus under control after a deadly spring, has also seen an uptick in cases. On Sunday, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced a 7.07% positivity rate for the city’s seven-day average.
Some estimates predict that US deaths could total 500,000 by spring.
US officials are also closely monitoring a coronavirus mutation detected in parts of the UK. While they say that the strain is no more likely to result in serious illness – nor more likely to resist vaccines – it appears to be more contagious.
Starting Monday, travelers entering America from the UK must show a negative Covid-19 test within three days of their flight following a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention mandate last week, AP noted.
Health officials in Los Angeles said they are testing for the new mutation as COVID-19 cases continue to rise in California. “I wouldn’t be surprised that it’s already here,” Dr.Peter Chin-Hong, an infectious disease professor at the University of California, San Francisco School of Medicine, told ABC-7 News.
Meanwhile, the vaccine rollout – which has already seen setbacks and controversies – is not expected to happen widely for several months, making near-term relief seem all the more uncertain. While the US goal under Operation Warp Speed was expected to provide vaccine doses to 20 million by year’s end, only around 1.9 million people have received a jab, per CNBC and KVIA.
Allegations of fraudulent vaccine distribution have already emerged. New York state authorities have announced a criminal probe into one healthcare provider, alleging that it “may have fraudulently obtained Covid-19 vaccine, transferred it to facilities in other parts of the state in violation of state guidelines and diverted it to members of the public,” according to the New York Post.
President-elect Joe Biden has also warned that the US pandemic is poised to get far worse before it gets better.
“One thing I promise you about my leadership during this crisis: I’m going to tell it to you straight. I’m going to tell you the truth. And here’s the simple truth: our darkest days in the battle against Covid are ahead of us, not behind us,” Biden recently said.
Source: The Guardian
Keyword: US warned of possible coronavirus surge in wake of holiday travel | Coronavirus