- The coronavirus is surging across the U.S., with nearly 140,000 new cases emerging just yesterday.
- Ahead of the Thanksgiving holiday, health experts worry that college students returning home will be responsible for a massive spike in new infections.
- Dr. Fauci last month advised people to “hold off” on Thanksgiving celebrations.
The coronavirus in the U.S. is spreading faster today than at any other point during the pandemic. And while previous surges were typically isolated to a few geographic regions, the current spike in coronavirus cases is impacting more than 40 states across the country. As an illustrative point, the number of coronavirus cases in the U.S. over the last two weeks shot up by 69% while the number of deaths increased by 23%. And just yesterday, the U.S. saw more than 139,000 new infections, a record-breaking figure no one should be proud of.
Unfortunately, the pandemic is likely to get worse over the coming weeks as colder weather drives more people indoors. What’s more, with the Thanksgiving holiday just around the corner, many health experts are fearful that college students will be responsible for the next massive surge in coronavirus infections.
Aside from the fact that many students return home to their families for Thanksgiving, The New York Times notes that many universities are planning “to end in-person classes before Thanksgiving and require students to finish the term remotely…”
Consequently, swarms of college students will be traveling back home over the next few weeks.
The Times adds:
The American College Health Association, which represents college health officers, recently issued public health guidelines recommending that schools encourage students to get tested before their Thanksgiving departure, refrain from traveling if they test positive and quarantine for 14 days at home upon arrival. But the association stopped short of calling for mandatory testing.
College students traveling back home could be problematic for a few reasons. Aside from increased travel and a higher headcount at family gatherings, college students who contract the coronavirus are more likely to be asymptomatic than older adults. In turn, it’s not unfathomable to imagine a scenario where thousands of asymptomatic coronavirus infected college students travel back home and inadvertently spread the virus to other family members.
Remember, a college campus — which by design facilitates close encounters between students — is essentially a breeding ground for a virus like the novel coronavirus.
College students heading back for the Thanksgiving holiday should ideally get tested before traveling. If that’s not possible, social distancing should be maintained indoors upon return. Some health experts are even advocating that families wear masks indoors if everyone under the roof hasn’t been tested.
On a related note, you may recall that Dr. Fauci last month advised people to scale back Thanksgiving celebrations.
“You may have to bite the bullet and sacrifice that social gathering,” Fauci explained, “unless you’re pretty certain that the people that you’re dealing with are not infected either.”
“My Thanksgiving is going to look very different this year,” Fauci added. “I would love to have it with my children, but my children are in three separate states throughout the country, and in order for them to get here, they would all have to go to an airport, get on a plane, and travel with public transportation. They themselves, because of their concern for me and my age, have decided they’re not going to come home for Thanksgiving, even though all three of them want very much to come home for Thanksgiving.”
“I say that some people in this country are going to be a relatively normal type of a Thanksgiving but in other areas of the country, you better hold off and maybe just have immediate family,” Fauci also said. “Make sure you do it in a way that people wear masks and you don’t have large crowds of people. You know, I’d like to say that everything is gonna be great by Thanksgiving, but I’m not so sure it is.”