If you traveled for Thanksgiving, one of the nation's leading experts and a member of the White House coronavirus response task force has some bad news: She says you were almost certainly exposed to Covid-19.
Dr Deborah Birx said infectious disease experts were “deeply concerned” by reports indicating millions of Americans spent the holiday weekend visiting families across state lines, breaking all sorts of CDC guidelines and coronavirus restrictions along the way.
In a Sunday interview with CBS’ Face the Nation, Dr Birx urged young people to act as if they had already contracted the novel coronavirus, responsible for more than 265,000 deaths nationwide: wear a mask, quarantine and go get tested within the next week.
“If you're young and you gathered, you need to be tested about five to 10 days later," she said. “But you need to assume that you're infected and not go near your grandparents and aunts and others without a mask."
The expert’s comments came after reports showed over one million people traveling through the nation’s airports on a daily basis in the days surrounding the Thanksgiving holiday, despite a surge in nationwide infections and warnings from the CDC advising Americans not to travel and host large gatherings.
On Sunday, reports estimated as many as 1.8 million people passed through airports across the country — the most since the outbreak began in March. Nearly three million people were screened in US airports during last year’s Thanksgiving holiday weekend.
Dr Birx said anyone with family members who traveled for the holiday has “to assume that you were exposed and you became infected and you really need to get tested in the next week.”
“To every American, this is the moment to protect yourself and your family,” she added.
Other experts — including Dr Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Disease and another member of the White House coronavirus response task force — have warned the nation could see another uptick in cases due to holiday travel.
Dr Fauci told NBC’s Meet the Press: “What we expect, unfortunately, as we go for the next couple of weeks into December, is that we might see a surge superimposed on the surge we are already in.”
He added: “I think we are going to have to make decisions as a nation, state, city and family that we are in a very difficult time, and we’re going to have to do the kinds of restrictions of things we would have liked to have done, particularly in this holiday season, because we’re entering into what’s really a precarious situation.”