From surging case numbers to record hospitalizations, the US is grappling with what experts long warned could be the biggest spike in the Covid-19 pandemic — and it still has to get through the Thanksgiving holiday.
© KENA BETANCUR/AFP/Getty Images
Travelers walk through Newark International Airport on November 21, 2020 in Newark, New Jersey. – Current US numbers — more than a quarter of a million deaths have been reported — have alarmed authorities enough to advise that people stay home for the November 26 Thanksgiving holiday, when Americans usually travel to be with their families. (Photo by Kena Betancur / AFP) (Photo by KENA BETANCUR/AFP via Getty Images)
Historically, the week of Thanksgiving is one of the busiest for travel. But with the US reporting its 20th day in a row of more than 100,000 new cases Sunday, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advised against traveling for the holiday this year to decrease risk of spreading infections.
As new cases spike, hospitalization rates have followed. At least 83,870 Covid-19 patients were hospitalized Sunday — the 13th straight day the US has broken its hospitalization record, according to the Covid Tracking Project.
Still, more than a million people passed through airports on Friday alone, according to the Transportation Security Administration.
While people board airplanes and load cars to visit family, the US has reported a million infections in under a week. Since the pandemic began, more than 12.2 million people have been infected and 256,783 people have died of the virus, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.
Health experts have long worried that the colder months could drive people indoors, leading to a rise in infection rates. On Friday, the CDC said that 50% of cases are spread by people without symptoms. With just one infected person having the potential to cause an outbreak, experts worry that people traveling and gathering could prove dangerous to the American public that is still in the thick of the pandemic.
State leaders warn against superspreader events
As the pandemic devastates regions across the country, many state leaders are urging residents to follow recommended guidelines.
Oregon reported a record high for three days in a row with 1,517 new cases on Sunday. Gov. Kate Brown ordered a two week “social freeze” on November 18 and warned residents Sunday not to attend large Thanksgiving gatherings.
“Our hospitals are simply too strained for superspreader events,” Brown tweeted.
In Nevada, cases are rising at “wildfire level,” Gov. Steve Sisolak said. He announced new restrictions will begin Tuesday, including a mask mandate indoors and outdoors for residents and visitors, limiting private gatherings to ten people or less and requiring restaurant reservations to be for no more than four people at a table.
El Paso, Texas, has a record number of active cases with 35,963 as of Sunday, according to the El Paso Department of Health. The case load has motivated the Texas National Guard to “provide mortuary support,” County Judge Ricardo Samaniego