Coronavirus: Birx urges Thanksgiving travelers to get tested for COVID-19

Birx urges Thanksgiving travelers to get tested for COVID-19

Dr. Deborah Birx, the White House’s coronavirus response coordinator, urged Americans who traveled for the Thanksgiving holiday to get tested for COVID-19 in the coming days, as cases of the viral infection continue to spike nationwide.

In the past week, officials with the Transportation Security Administration screened more than 6.4 million people at airports across the country, including more than 1 million people who traveled on Sunday. 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.

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“If your family traveled, you have to assume that you are exposed and you became infected and you really need to get tested in the next week,” Birx said Sunday during an appearance on CBS’ “Face the Nation.”

Birx warned that people who traveled should avoid family members who are 65 years old or older, and family members who have diseases or medical conditions which could be exacerbated by COVID-19.

“Now is the moment to … protect those from having secondary and tertiary transmission within the family,” Birx said. “And if you’re over 65 or you have comorbidities and you gathered at Thanksgiving, if you develop any symptoms, you need to be tested immediately.”

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, said Sunday during an appearance on ABC’s “This Week” that the U.S. may see “surge upon a surge” of the coronavirus case in the weeks after Thanksgiving.

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., more than 13.4 million cases have been reported nationwide, causing more than 267,000 deaths.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.