(NBC) With Thanksgiving two days away and signs that many Americans are ignoring government warnings not to travel, health officials fear COVID-19 infections and deaths will explode in the weeks ahead.
Hospitals in some states are already at the breaking point and despite positive news about a trio of potential coronavirus vaccines, health experts fear they won’t come soon enough.
An enduring image of the COVID-19 era this thanksgiving week is Americans waiting in line. Some are hoping to get tested for coronavirus. Others are waiting hours just to feed their families. In some places the number of people struggling to make ends meet staggering. And it might soon get worse.
At the end of the year, hundreds of millions in federal dollars for food banks, provided by the CARES Act, will run out.
Paco Velez, CEO of Feeding South Florida, said, “The amount of families that cannot put food on their table, that are struggling to keep a roof over their head is out of control.”
Healthcare workers are at a breaking point, watching field hospitals go back up in places where the virus had peaked long ago and hospital beds fill up in the newest hotspots.
CEO of UMass Memorial Health Care Dr. Eric Dickson said, “We are nowhere near the peak of this thing yet.”
This comes as the nation tops 12.5 million confirmed COVID-19 cases and 259,000 deaths, the government is encouraged by the latest vaccine news with the first doses on track to be distributed in just a few weeks, pending FDA approval.
Secretary, Health and Human Services Alex Azar said, “We have an end in sight and we have much happier holidays in the near future.”
But with long lines of holiday travelers at the nation’s airports, the country’s top disease experts worry there will be a lot more suffering and death before then.
Coronavirus task force member Doctor Anthony Fauci warns while some vaccines could be approved for emergency use in early December, it will probably be April before the general U.S. population starts to receive a vaccine.
© 2023 KOBI-TV NBC5. All rights reserved unless otherwise stated.