COVID-19 data does not yet reflect Thanksgiving

The United States saw all-time highs for COVID-19 cases this week, but the increases do not yet reflect expected increases resulting from Thanksgiving weekend exposures, according to the COVID Tracking Project

The U.S. reported 210,161 new COVID-19 cases Dec. 3. 

Leaders with the Project noted before the holiday that Thanksgiving infections are unlikely to be clearly visible in official case data until at least the second week in December given what is known about the virus's progression and delays in reporting systems.

On NBC's "Today" show Dec. 4, Anthony Fauci, MD, the head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, expressed concern about the timing of the expected increase in post-Thanksgiving infections. 

"We have not yet seen the post-Thanksgiving peak," Dr. Fauci said. "That's the concerning thing, because the numbers in and of themselves are alarming. … Likely, we'll see more of a surge as you get two and three weeks past the Thanksgiving holiday. And the thing that concerns me is that abuts right on the Christmas holiday, as people start to travel and shop and congregate."

Hospitalizations also reached an all-time high this week, standing at 100,667 current hospitalizations Dec. 3. 

The Project has said that the new hospital admissions metric in the public hospitalization dataset from HHS is less volatile than other reporting metrics after disruptions caused by Thanksgiving. "If you're a reporter covering COVID-19, we recommend focusing on current hospitalizations and new admissions as the most reliable indicator of what is actually happening in your area and in the country as a whole," the Project noted Nov. 24.


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