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Just a week ahead of the Thanksgiving holiday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advised Americans not to travel to see family or friends outside their households.
“The tragedy that could happen is that one of your family members, from coming together in this family gathering, actually could end up being hospitalized and severely ill and die,” Henry Walke, the CDC’s COVID-19 incident manager, said on a call with reporters on Thursday.
But although fewer US residents will travel over Thanksgiving this year than in a typical season, tens of millions still plan to drive, fly, or take a bus to mingle with extended family. Experts expect the mass travel to exacerbate the country’s already devastating surge in cases and deaths.
In the last week, 1 million people were diagnosed with the coronavirus. On average each day, 1,300 people have died.
Anand Swaminathan, an assistant professor of emergency medicine at St. Joseph’s Hospital in New Jersey, told Business Insider that by mid-December, vast numbers of people sickened at holiday gatherings could overwhelm and “break” hospitals.
“We don’t even know how bad the swell and surge is going to be after Thanksgiving,” Swaminathan said.
The US has plenty of examples of successful efforts to curtail the coronavirus’ spread. But the most notable ahead of this holiday season is China’s approach to the Lunar New Year. A few days before that holiday in January, the Chinese government recommended against travel nationwide, banned all public celebrations, and shut down all transportation to and from Wuhan, the epicenter of the outbreak.
A May study published in Science showed that without those restrictions and recommendations, the coronavirus would have spread far more quickly.
“The epidemic peaked in Hubei province on February 4, 2020, indicating that measures such as closing citywide public transport and entertainment venues and banning public gatherings combined to avert hundreds of thousands of cases of infection,” the study authors wrote.
Yet 10 months later, and with many millions more cases than China had during the winter, the US is not following that example.
Lunar New Year travel spread the coronavirus, but far less than it could have
Travel ahead of the Lunar New Year almost certainly helped the virus spread among hundreds of cities and thousands of people in China and internationally, since many people traveled before regions and cities were locked down. But it could have been far worse.
Typically, Chinese citizens make 3 billion travel movements over the 40-day Lunar New Year holiday period from January to February.
China banned all travel out of Wuhan on January 23, two days before Lunar New Year on January 25. A day later, it expanded the restriction to encompass the entire Hubei province. The nation also banned Lunar New Year celebrations in most major cities and advised citizens not to travel.
China had confirmed just 835 coronavirus cases and 26 deaths at that point.
“The lockdown is actually very, very forward-looking because it is based on the judgment that Wuhan has already been much much worse than …read more
Source:: Business Insider