- Health experts warn that the most dangerous place to be when it comes to coronavirus transmission risk is at home.
- Household gatherings are driving the new COVID-19 surge in the US, as more people congregate indoors now that the cold weather is arriving.
- Health experts advise against small gatherings, which increase transmission risk, especially if people do not wear masks or respect other safety measures.
The third wave of the US coronavirus epidemic has already arrived, matching expectations from experts who warned that the mid-July record highs would soon be surpassed. Over 80,000 people tested positive on both Friday and Saturday, and there are no signs that the surge is slowing down. The cold weather favors the virus as people tend to congregate more indoors. But experts warn that the most dangerous place to be is inside the home when it comes to COVID-19 transmission risk.
Household gatherings are the “major vector” of coronavirus transmission, according to Health and Human Services secretary Alex Azar’s remarks on Friday.
“This is being driven by individual behaviors at this point,” Azar told CNN, via MSN. “We’ve got to keep focused on washing our hands, watching our distance and wearing our face coverings when we can’t watch our distance and in particular being careful in household gatherings. This has become a major vector of disease spread.”
Azar isn’t the only health expert who believes that household gatherings are driving the surge.
“Unfortunately we’re seeing a distressing trend here in the United States,” CDC’s deputy director for infectious diseases Jay Butler said on Wednesday. “Smaller, more intimate gatherings of family, friends, and neighbors may be driving transmission as well, especially as they move indoors” on account of the cooler weather. The official said that people have to continue to respect health recommendations.“I recognize that we are all getting tired of the impact that COVID-19 has had on our lives. We get tired of wearing masks, but it continues to be as important as it’s ever been, and I would say it’s more important than ever as we move into the fall season.”
Dr. Anthony Fauci also highlighted the importance of avoiding social events at home to reduce the spread of the illness. “Given the fluid and dynamic nature of what’s going on right now in the spread and the uptick of infections, I think people should be very careful and prudent about social gatherings,” Fauci said. “Particularly when members of the family might be at a risk because of their age or their underlying condition … you may have to bite the bullet and sacrifice that social gathering.”
In different remarks, Fauci said that people should ventilate their homes so that aerosols can dissipate faster, and that they shouldn’t be afraid to wear face masks indoors in other people’s presence. Fauci also said that people should consider canceling this year’s Thanksgiving celebrations.
“Simple things that we all could be doing: Wear your mask, keep that six-foot distance, and don’t congregate indoors, whatever you do, and wash your hands,” echoed on NPR last week Dr. Francis Collins, the director of the National Institutes of Health. “People are tired of it, and yet the virus is not tired of us.”
Unlike the mid-July peak when four states were responsible for more than half the cases, 11 states contributed largely to the new records this past weekend. That indicates the surge is more widespread and will be even more difficult to tame. As many as 24 states have broken their records for new daily coronavirus cases in the last two weeks.