A member of President-elect Joe Biden‘s COVID-19 advisory board on Saturday made a grim prediction about U.S. coronavirus cases in the coming weeks after millions of Americans traveled for Thanksgiving, despite warnings from public health officials.
“We fully expect that in about a week or two after Thanksgiving we will see an increase in cases first, then about a week or two later you’ll start to see an increase in hospitalizations, and then another week or two after that you’ll start to see deaths,” Dr. Celine Gounder told CBS News.
Gounder, a clinical assistant professor at the NYU Grossman School of Medicine, noted that COVID-19 symptoms can develop up two weeks after exposure, which “means that people who celebrated with family, with friends over Thanksgiving will find themselves in the hospital, in ICUs over Christmas and New Years.”
Her comments come as the number of new COVID-19 cases reported in the U.S. topped 200,000 for the first time Friday. The highest previous daily count was 196,000 on Nov. 20, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.
The institution reported a high of more than 2 million tests a few days before Thanksgiving as people prepared to travel, but that number had dropped to less than 1.2 million tests on Thanksgiving Day.
Gounder said that as the fallout from holiday traveling becomes more realized, calls to “flatten the curve” will likely be commonplace again to prevent hospitals from being overwhelmed.
“Normally we have skeleton crews functioning in the hospital to allow for that to happen,” she said. “Unfortunately, I think some people are going to find themselves having to work the holidays to meet the surge.”
Fox News’ Andrew O’Reilly and The Associated Press contributed to this report.