WASHINGTON - The nation's top health expert is warning of a major coronavirus surge as travelers return home following the Thanksgiving holiday.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said that the level of infection in the U.S. would not "all of a sudden turn around." Fauci said the nation could see "surge upon a surge," during an interview with ABC's "This Week" on Sunday.
Expects also warned that coronavirus testing numbers could be erratic in the upcoming weeks as fewer people were tested during the holiday weekend and testing sites observed shorter hours. They warn potential dips in reported infections could offer the illusion that the spread of the virus is easing.
"I just hope that people don't misinterpret the numbers and think that there wasn't a major surge as a result of Thanksgiving, and then end up making Christmas and Hanukkah and other travel plans," said Dr. Leana Wen, a professor at George Washington University and an emergency physician.
FOX 5's Melanie Alnwick reports that the Transportation Security Administration screened nearly 1.2 million passengers at U.S. airport checkpoints on Sunday. That number is in addition to the nearly five million passengers who traveled in advance and through the weekend.
Many passengers FOX 5 spoke with said they took precautions before and during travel. 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."
Over 266,000 people have died from the coronavirus in the United States according to Johns Hopkins.
The Associated Press contributed to this report