Dr. Birx: If you defiantly traveled for Thanksgiving, assume you’re infected with COVID-19

Dr. Deborah Birx warned Americans who traveled and joined larger gatherings for Thanksgiving that they should assume they have been infected with COVID-19.

The White House coronavirus task force coordinator lectured post-holiday travelers who “may have made mistakes” over the Thanksgiving break, telling them they “need to be tested,” as she shared concerns over a coming surge in positive cases during an interview on “Face the Nation” Sunday.

“The numbers are pretty staggering,” CBS anchor Margaret Brennan began her interview Sunday. “I know we crossed at least twice this week a daily death count over 2,000. It’s the first time we’ve seen that during this pandemic. Dr. Fauci said this morning we’re seeing a surge on top of a surge. What do Americans need to be prepared for?”

“We’re entering this post-Thanksgiving surge with three, four and 10 times as much disease across the country,” Birx replied. “And so that’s what worries us the most. We saw what happened post Memorial Day. Now we are deeply worried about what could happen post-Thanksgiving because the number of cases, 25,000 versus 180,000 a day, that’s where- that’s why we are deeply concerned.”

(Source: CBS News)

Birx noted that they are asking “states and mayors to really test for impact and consider vaccinating for impact.”

“We know who’s at highest risk, making sure that all of those individuals are tested,” she added. “We know people may have made mistakes over the Thanksgiving time period.”

Large numbers of Americans traveled over the holiday weekend despite warnings from local and state officials as well as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Defiant travelers were even more incensed when hypocritical leaders imposed strict restrictions but were caught defying their own orders.

“So if you’re young and you gathered, you need to be tested about five to 10 days later,” Birx told Brennan. “But you need to assume that you’re infected and not go near your grandparents and aunts and others without a mask.”

“We’re really asking families to even mask indoors if they chose to gather during Thanksgiving and others went across the country or even into the next state,” she added.

“And if you’re over 65 or you have comorbidities and you gathered at Thanksgiving, if you develop any symptoms, you need to be tested immediately because we know that our therapeutics work best, both our antivirals and our monoclonal antibodies, work best very early in disease,” the physician and former United States global AIDS coordinator continued.

Governors and mayors in some locations across the country have been re-imposing restrictions on residents and businesses amid a spike in coronavirus cases and an increase in hospitalizations.

“We’re deeply worried,” Birx shared, after urging local leaders “to make testing more available so we can prevent people having to be hospitalized.”

She suggested that “the first thing you should do is close spaces where people cannot wear a mask. And we know where that is. That’s bars and indoor restaurants. Reduce capacity if needed. You may have to even close them. We have seen that that works.”

Birx went on to urge pandemic-weary Americans to individually do their part to help stem the spread of the virus again.

“To every American, this is the moment to protect yourself and your family,” she said. “So if your governor or your mayor isn’t doing the policies that we know are critical — masking, physical distancing, avoiding bars, avoiding crowded indoor areas — if those restrictions don’t exist in your state, you need to take it upon yourself to be restricted. You need to not go to these places. You need to protect your family now.”

Birx also added that she hoped to begin briefing the potentially incoming Biden administration on the latest beginning on Monday.

“The one thing that we will bring to the Biden administration in that discussion is to understand how they want to see the data because data isn’t helpful if it’s not actionable,” she said. “And each group needs to see it the way it moves them to action.”

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, went so far as suggesting Americans cancel Christmas this year if the surge in cases continues.

“If the surge takes a turn of continuing to go up and you have the sustained greater than 100,000 infections a day and 1,300 deaths per day and the count keeps going up and up … I don’t see it being any different during the Christmas and New Year’s holidays than during Thanksgiving,” Fauci told USA Today.

“For my own family, I’m saying we had a really great Thanksgiving and Christmas last year. We’re looking forward to a really great Thanksgiving and Christmas in 2021,” he said. “Let’s now make the best of the situation and show our love and affection for people by keeping them safe.”


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Frieda Powers


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