Thought Thanksgiving fed COVID-19? Christmas may be worse

Too many ignored the warning that travel over the Turkey Day holiday would spread the virus to record levels. More may make it even worse over Christmas.
A medical professional warms her hands between drive-through coronavirus tests at Lovelace Hospital in Albuquerque on Wednesday morning. (Adolphe Pierre-Louis/Albuquerque Journal/AP)

Dr. Anthony Fauci, considered America’s leading medical expert on the COVID-19 coronavirus says the upcoming Christmas holiday period will be even more of a challenge to containing the pandemic than the Thanksgiving period that now has infections, hospitalizations and deaths rising at record rates.

“I think it could be even more of a challenge than what we saw with Thanksgiving,” Fauci told CNN’s “New Day.”

With the nation topping 200,000 new patients daily with 100,000 added to hospitals, the warning is considered a sure bet.

Virginia topped more than 3,800 cases for the second day in a row Monday in the daily report by the state Department of Health. Floyd County’s new infection rate now runs 4 or more cases a day, with eight on Monday’s report.

Many of these new cases are attributed to people ignoring safety regulations like wearing masks and practice social distancing. Americans en masse traveled by plane, train and cars over Thanksgiving to visit relatives and loved ones even though medical experts urged them to stay home and remain safe.

With more than 281,00o people in the United States now dead from the virus and more than 14.7 million infected, the same experts say the death total could cop 400,000 by year’s end.

While vaccines appear to be near approval, distribution and administering the needed dosages will take months even if they started before the end of January.

In virus-savaged California, most of the state returned to lockdown status but some say the move may be too little, too late, and point to New Mexico, which shut down nearly everything to keep hospitals from overflowing with patients and found it wasn’t enough.

New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham called the pandemic the “most serious emergency that New Mexico has ever faced’ and said she is “dragging her state back to the darkest days of spring, when restaurant dining was banned, non-essential businesses closed and residents ordered to stay inside.”

“New Mexico has crushed this virus before — twice,” she said three weeks ago. “We’re going to do it again.” But the third time has not been a charm.

Now she is leaning towards allowing hospitals to go into a system-wide triage mode, which rations care only to those with a strong likelihood of survival.

“That’s a physician’s nightmare,” says Jason Mitchell, chief medical officer at Presbyterian Healthcare Services, one of the state’s largest providers.

“We’re headed there very quickly,” he adds. “There’s no more room at the inn.”

Even though New Mexico garnered praise for Grisham’s strong tactics early in the state’s fight, the ever-evolving virus seems to have regained the upper hand.

“There is no doubt that every nurse and doctor in this town is absolutely exhausted,” Albuquerque Mayor Tim Keller told The Washington Post. “You can only do this for so long.”