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Fauci Warns of ‘Surge Upon a Surge’ of COVID-19

In this file photo, Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Anthony Fauci speaks during an unscheduled briefing after a Coronavirus Task Force meeting at the White House on April 5, 2020, in Washington.

The top infectious disease expert in the U.S. warned Monday of a “surge upon a surge” of coronavirus cases as Americans travel for holidays.

“If we don’t listen to the public health measures that we need to follow, then we could start to see things get really bad in the middle of January. Not only for New York state, but for any state or city that is facing similar problems," Dr. Anthony Fauci said at a press conference in New York alongside state Governor Andrew Cuomo.

Millions of Americans traveled across the country for the Thanksgiving holiday, despite warnings from health experts. As case numbers continue to rise, experts worry that surges will increase if Americans gather with family for Hannukah and Christmas.

New York is no exception to an upward trend in coronavirus cases, though Cuomo said Monday that the state’s numbers are lower than many other parts of the country.

Jayceon Melendez arrives at P.S. 134 Henrietta Szold Elementary School, Dec. 7, 2020, in New York.
Jayceon Melendez arrives at P.S. 134 Henrietta Szold Elementary School, Dec. 7, 2020, in New York.

New York City students returned to schools on Monday, after they had been sent home in mid-November following an increase the rate of positive COVID-19 tests.

“This is a good day for New York City, even against a tough backdrop,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said Monday at a virtual news conference from City Hall.

De Blasio said it was safe to reopen schools, as protocols had been beefed up.

Since mid-September, when schools opened, more than 1,740 students and 2,240 staff in the public school system have tested positive for COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, according to city statistics.

California: 30,000 new cases in a day

California began imposing restrictions throughout the state, beginning at midnight Sunday, as it tallies record numbers. The state confirmed 30,000 new cases Sunday — the highest recorded in a single day. Its previous high was nearly 22,000 set Friday.

Fauci said Monday that the state’s restrictions would "rescue them from possibly getting their hospitals overrun," Reuters reported.

The California governor's order bans all private gatherings in the affected areas, closes all but critical infrastructure and retail operations, and requires mask wearing and social distancing.

However, the sheriffs of Los Angeles, Orange and Riverside counties — three of the state’s most populous counties — have said they would not enforce the order, which is to last three weeks.

The U.S. has confirmed a total of more than 14,800,000 cases of the coronavirus this year, and 283,211 deaths, according to the Johns Hopkins University Coronavirus Resource Center.

Last week, U.S. officials decided that health care workers and nursing home residents would be among the first Americans to be vaccinated against the disease, likely before the end of the year.