The US Didn’t See A Huge COVID-19 Thanksgiving Surge. Christmas Will Be A Bigger Challenge.


Public health experts feared that Thanksgiving would bring a COVID-19 apocalypse for the US, with the prospect of extended families spending several days together, unmasked and indoors. No one raised the alarm more than Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, who on Nov. 29 warned on network television “we may see a surge upon a surge” in two to three weeks time.


Three weeks later, it’s hard to see any clear changes in the trajectory of cases and hospitalization indicating an additional Thanksgiving surge.

The national situation remains dire, with reported deaths, the number of Americans in the hospital, and new confirmed cases all at unprecedented levels and still rising. But given that people who become seriously ill typically turn up at the hospital about 10 days after getting infected, experts would have expected a Thanksgiving surge to show up by now.

BuzzFeed News asked Fauci and other experts about what to make of the data we’ve seen since the holiday. They said the expected Thanksgiving surge may have been masked by the bigger pattern of the recent wave of COVID-19 spreading across the nation and suggested that maybe many people did listen and stay at home. But the experts agreed: Even if we did dodge a bullet on Thanksgiving, people should rein in their festivities over Christmas and New Years, or we could see another big surge.

“I’m not saying at all that we need to cancel Christmas,” Fauci said. “What I am saying is that we need to be really careful.”

US national trends for key COVID-19 measures

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