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Health officials fear Christmas surge could be even worse than Thanksgiving, despite virus vaccines

Virus Outbreak Travel Restrictions
Posted at 10:02 PM, Dec 28, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-28 23:23:10-05

BALTIMORE — Health officials are concerned about a surge in COVID-19 cases, some fear could be worse than Thanksgiving, after millions of Americans traveled for Christmas.

Dr. William Greenough, who is an infectious disease specialist from Johns Hopkins University, said he expects the Christmas surge to peak in the next month.

“I think we’re in for another difficult time," he said. “Christmas travel, which has been large, despite the suggestion not to travel, we're going to see another major peak perhaps higher than the Thanksgiving peak about a month from 6 weeks from now.”

On Sunday, 1.2 million Americans were screened at TSA checkpoints, which set a new pandemic record, while more than 7 million people traveled in the past week alone, according to TSA.

At BWI Marshall Airport, TSA screened more than 40,000 people over the holiday weekend. The airport reported more than 17,000 departing passengers on Sunday, which was the most since mid-March, according to the airport's spokesperson.

Maryland reported 1,985 cases and 28 deaths on Monday. It's only the second time the daily case count was less than 2,000 this month. The number of hospitalizations is now at 1,738.

Even with vaccinations underway, Dr. Greenough said he's still worried about the impact another surge could have on hospitals.

“The worry is that with the Christmas travel we’re going to run out of hospital space," he said.

During a news conference, Baltimore Mayor Brandon Scott said numbers are beginning to improve in the city. But with the New Year just days away, he's urging people to celebrate differently this year and avoid large gatherings.

"While we are seeing the spread of COVID-19 slow in some ways, we are nowhere near out of the woods," he said.

Governor Larry Hogan's order limiting travel to essential purposes only is still in effect.

If you traveled for the holiday outside of Maryland, you are required to test negative for the virus within 48 hours or quarantine for ten days.