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'People let their guard down': Health expert expresses concern over possible post-holiday travel rise in COVID-19 cases

After around 50 million Americans traveled for Thanksgiving, doctors are concerned that cases will increase in the coming weeks.

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Despite warnings from the CDC, nearly 50 million Americans traveled for the Thanksgiving holiday to see friends and family, according to AAA projections.

"I suspect that being among family members, people let their guard down. They didn't wear masks, and I suspect many didn't socially distance," said Dr. John Sinnott, an epidemiologist with USF Health and Tampa General Hospital.

The false sense of security could create problems in the weeks to come, "This terrible plague is spread by people. Even people you love, even people you care about," Dr. Sinnott said.

Then there is the impact on schools to consider as man schools are open to in-person learning. While kids tend to contract COVID-19 less, be asymptotic, or have mild experiences with the virus they still could have been exposed and spread it to others if they were around the table without masks.

"They would carry the virus but not be sick. Which would be that is the worst scenario," Sinnott explained.

This is why he says relying on the known protective measures is important to help prevent greater spread beyond your Thanksgiving table.

"The ideas that we have guidelines in place, there should be six feet of personal distance, and you should be wearing a mask," Dr. Sinnott said. "If you do that, you will help blunt the spread."

It will take two to three weeks to see the impact of holiday travel and festivities on the spread of the coronavirus. 

"America just did an experiment. What happens if you travel to meet your family during a pandemic? No one really knows," Dr. Sinnott said. "But in two weeks to three weeks, you'll start knowing."

In the meantime, Dr. Sinnott highly recommends that anyone who traveled for the holiday gets tested right away. Also, if you had visitors come to your home, everyone in the home should also be tested.

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