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Fauci:May See Surge Upon Surge of Virus11/30 06:07

   The nation's top infectious disease expert said Sunday that the U.S. may see 
"surge upon a surge" of the coronavirus in the weeks after Thanksgiving, and he 
does not expect current recommendations around social distancing to be relaxed 
before Christmas.

   (AP) -- The nation's top infectious disease expert said Sunday that the U.S. 
may see "surge upon a surge" of the coronavirus in the weeks after 
Thanksgiving, and he does not expect current recommendations around social 
distancing to be relaxed before Christmas.

   Meanwhile, in a major reversal, New York City Mayor Bill DeBlasio said the 
nation's largest school system will reopen to in-person learning and increase 
the number of days a week many children attend class. The announcement came 
just 11 days after the Democratic mayor said schools would shut down because of 
rising COVID-19 cases.

   "We feel confident that we can keep schools safe," he said.

   Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and 
Infectious Diseases, told ABC's "This Week" that the level of infection in the 
U.S. would not "all of a sudden turn around."

   "So clearly in the next few weeks, we're going to have the same sort of 
thing. And perhaps even two or three weeks down the line ... we may see a surge 
upon a surge," he said.

   Fauci addressed the school issue, saying that spread "among children and 
from children is not really very big at all, not like one would have suspected. 
So let's try to get the kids back, but let's try to mitigate the things that 
maintain and just push the kind of community spread that we're trying to 
avoid," he said.

   Fauci also appeared on NBC's "Meet the Press," where he made similar 
remarks, adding that it's "not too late" for people traveling home after 
Thanksgiving to help curb the virus by wearing masks, staying distant from 
others and avoiding large groups of people.

   The number of new COVID-19 cases reported in the United States topped 
200,000 for the first time Friday, according to data from Johns Hopkins 
University. Since January, when the first infections were reported in the U.S., 
the nation's total number of cases has surpassed 13 million. More than 265,000 
people have died.

   Fauci said the arrival of vaccines offers a "light at the end of the 
tunnel." This coming week, the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices 
will meet with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to discuss a 
rollout of the vaccine, he said.

   He added that President-elect Joe Biden should focus on distributing 
vaccines in an "efficient and equitable way." Fauci also said he planned to 
push the new administration for a rigorous testing program.

   Health care workers will likely be among the first to get the vaccine, with 
the first vaccinations happening before the end of December, followed by many 
more in January, February and March, he said.

   "So if we can hang together as a country and do these kinds of things to 
blunt these surges until we get a substantial proportion of the population 
vaccinated, we can get through this," Fauci said.

   Other experts agreed that the coming weeks would be difficult, especially 
since so many traveled over the holiday and held in-person dinners indoors.

   Dr. Deborah Birx, the White House coronavirus response coordinator, said 
Sunday on CBS' "Face the Nation" that Americans who traveled this past week 
should try to avoid people over 65. She said that those who were around others 
for Thanksgiving "have to assume that you were exposed and you became infected 
and you really need to get tested in the next week."

   Meanwhile, a busy travel weekend continued, despite warnings for Americans 
to stay close to home and limit their holiday gatherings.

   Aside from the Thanksgiving holiday itself, anywhere from 800,000 to more 
than 1 million travelers made their way through U.S. airport checkpoints on any 
day during the past week, according to Transportation Security Administration 
statistics. That's a far cry from the 2.3 to 2.6 million seen daily last year. 
But it far surpasses the number of travelers early in the pandemic, when daily 
totals fell below 100,000 on some spring days.

   More COVID-19 restrictions were in store for California starting Monday. Los 
Angeles County will impose a lockdown calling for its 10 million residents to 
stay home. Santa Clara County, which includes San Jose, is banning all high 
school, collegiate and professional sports and imposing a quarantine for anyone 
traveling into the region from more than 150 miles away.

   Back in New York, some elementary schools and pre-kindergarten programs will 
resume classes Dec. 7, a week from Monday, the mayor said. Others will take 
longer to reopen.

   The plan for reopening middle and high schools is still being developed, de 
Blasio said.

   About 190,000 students will be eligible to return to classrooms in the first 
round of reopening, just a fraction of the more than 1 million total pupils in 
the system. The great majority of parents have opted to have their kids learn 
remotely by computer.

   De Blasio said that many of those returning in person will be able to attend 
five days of class a week, up from one to three days previously.

   Elementary school students attending in person will be required to undergo 
frequent testing for the virus. Previously, the city set a target of testing 
20% of teachers and students in each school building once a month. Now the 
testing will be weekly.

   The mayor said the city was doing away with its previous trigger for closing 
schools, which was when 3% or more of the virus tests conducted in the city 
over a seven-day period came back positive.

   New York exceeded that threshold early in November, and infections have 
slightly worsened since then. More than 9,300 residents have tested positive 
for the virus over the past seven days.

 
 
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