As millions of people in the United States travel back home from the Thanksgiving holiday, daily Covid-19 hospitalizations are inching closer to 100,000 -- the highest they've ever been. Now health experts are asking those who gathered with people outside their households to get tested.
"If your family traveled, you have to assume that you were exposed and you became infected," White House coronavirus task force coordinator Dr. Deborah Birx told CBS on Sunday.
TSA screened 1.17 million people on Sunday, when many Americans were heading home from their Thanksgiving travels, it said. That means more than 9.4 million people were screened in the Thanksgiving travel window, which began the Friday before the holiday.
November has been a month of unprecedented coronavirus surge, with 27 consecutive days of new cases surpassing 100,000, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.
And as hospitalizations reached a new record of 93,238 on Sunday, it was the third time the metric surpassed 90,000 this month, according to the Covid Tracking Project.
"There's no way that the hospitals can be fully prepared for what we're currently facing," emergency medicine physician Dr. Megan Ranney said.
Oklahoma sees over 13k more infections over long weekend
The Oklahoma State Department of Health said the new counts (as of Monday morning, November 30th) bring the state to a total of 197,745 case of the virus and 1,743 fatalities.
The actual number of cases is believed to be far higher because many people haven’t been tested and some who get the disease don’t show symptoms. The counts come as the pandemic has grown worse across the state. Infectious diseases experts have warned that Thanksgiving could cause spikes in testing and delays in processing that may make the resulting figures difficult to interpret.
Over the last seven days, more than 21% of coronavirus tests in Oklahoma have come back positive, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.
We are at a risky time
Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation's leading infectious disease expert, is encouraging individuals returning from travel to quarantine, if possible, to mitigate the spread.
"Right now, as people go back we want to urge them, if they've been in situations outside of the family setting in which they really don't know the level of exposure, to be really careful when you either return from the place that you went or other people come back into your house," he told Martha Raddatz on ABC's "This Week."
Statistics reported in the days after the holiday might show a relative dip in Covid-19 cases, followed by a surge due to a lag in government agencies' reporting over the long weekend. And given coronavirus' lengthy incubation time and how long it takes an infected person to test positive, cases related to Thanksgiving are unlikely to show in public data until the first full week of December at the earliest.
US Surgeon General Dr. Jerome Adams told "Fox News Sunday" he expects new infections and hospitalizations to get worse over the coming weeks. "Make sure you're washing your hands and make sure again if you've been in a gathering of more than 10 people without your mask on over the last several days, please get tested in the next three to five days," he said.
Rates of spread are worse in the Midwest than in other parts of the country, Dr. Scott Gottlieb, former commissioner of the US Food and Drug Administration said Sunday on CBS' "Face the Nation."
"If you see what's happening in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic states, where governors took more aggressive steps early, where there's more consistent use of masks, where they took less infection going into this season -- I think you're going to see infection remain rates remain lower than we're seeing in other parts of the country like the Midwest," Gottlieb said.
Find testing sites in Oklahoma listed here.
Check the Oklahoma State Department of Health for COVID updates and stats (updated daily) on its website.
Sources: CNN, ABC’s “This Week”, NBC’s “Meet the Press”, CBS’s “Face the Nation”, Fox News Sunday, Tulsa Public Radio, Oklahoma State Department of Health