Covid-19 cases on the rise in the US ahead of Thanksgiving

Cases of Covid-19 are rising across the United States as the holiday season approaches, with many people planning a return to traditional Thanksgiving gatherings.

According to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the seven-day rolling average number of daily new cases has risen to 88,482.

That is a 16.1 per cent increase from the average of 76,223 reported last week.

The total number of US Covid cases since the start of the pandemic is now more than 47.3 million.

Some 196 million in the US are now vaccinated. The latest figures are a marked improvement on November 2020 when more than 160,000 cases were reported every day. A further 34.5 million Americans have received a booster shot.

Dr Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and chief medical adviser to President Joe Biden, says that the vaccinated can “feel good about enjoying a typical Thanksgiving”.

However, officials are worried about a spike in cases afflicting the unvaccinated or partially vaccinated, or those who may be vulnerable even to a mild Covid infection. Some 57 million people, over 12 years old, have not been vaccinated.

Children are also of particular concern given that those aged five to 11 were only made eligible for the vaccine earlier this month and so the vast majority will not be vaccinated in time for Thanksgiving. Those aged under five are still not eligible.

While it is too late to get vaccinated in time for Thanksgiving, people are urged to do so as soon as possible and exercise pandemic precautions while gathering with family and friends.

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Keeping numbers limited, providing rapid tests for attendees, better ventilation, or holding events outdoors, are all recommended as steps people can take to minimise risk.

Families should also pay close attention to potential exposure to the virus prior to celebratory events and should enforce rules for those with symptoms.

Maintaining some precautions is also advised for the vaccinated population. While all the vaccines available are highly effective, none are 100 per cent, and breakthrough infections can occur.

Efficacy also fades over time, and for many, six months will have passed since they were vaccinated. Waning immunity, fading adherence to precautions, and large intergenerational gatherings could see more breakthrough cases emerge and lead to a higher rate of community transmission.

Professor Amber D’Souza, an epidemiologist at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health is concerned that case numbers are already rising even before the holidays.

“We’re definitely headed into our next surge,” she told The Hill.

Parts of the Midwest, New England, and the Southwest are already experiencing surges, with case numbers doubling in Massachusetts and Rhode Island. There are also worrying numbers in Michigan, Minnesota, and New Mexico.

Hospitalisations and deaths have been held down by the effectiveness of the vaccines. New cases of the disease are occurring at a rate six times higher in unvaccinated people than vaccinated people. Deaths are occurring at 12 times the rate in the unvaccinated population.


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