Dr. Anthony Fauci is warning Americans of a "surge upon surge" of coronavirus cases in the weeks following Thanksgiving and leading up to Christmas.
"We have to be careful now because there is almost certainly going to be an uptick because of what has happened with the travel," Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and a member of the White House coronavirus task force, told ABC's This Week on Sunday.
"We likely will have an increase in cases as we get into the colder weeks of winter and as we approach the Christmas season," he added.
The United States has been experiencing a sharp rise in COVID-19 cases across the country, which led to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to advise against indoor gatherings of large groups ahead of Thanksgiving. The CDC also continues to recommend six feet of distance and face coverings at all times.
And according to Fauci, it's unlikely these recommendations will be relaxed come Christmas and New Year's time.
"I can't see how we're not going to have the same thing," he explained. "When you have the kind of inflection that we have, it doesn't all of a sudden turn around like that."
"And perhaps even two or three weeks down the line, we may see a surge upon a surge," he said. "We don't want to frighten people, but that's just the reality."
Also speaking to NBC's Meet the Press on Sunday, Fauci warned of the restrictions to come as COVID-19 cases continue to spike in the U.S.
"I think we are going to have to make decisions as a nation, state, city and family that we are in a very difficult time, and we’re going to have to do the kinds of restrictions of things we would like to have done, particularly in this holiday season, because we’re entering into what’s really a precarious situation,” Fauci said.
However, Fauci did note that there is "light at the end of the tunnel," explaining that the coronavirus vaccines will begin to be distributed to a portion of Americans by the end of December.
Currently, Pfizer and Moderna's coronavirus vaccine have shown to be 95 percent effective in preliminary trials and are both awaiting approval from the Food and Drug Administration.
"If we can hang together as a country and do these kinds of things to blunt these surges until we get a substantial portion of the population vaccinated, we can get through this," Fauci said.
"There really is light at the end of the tunnel," he added.
As of Sunday, here are more than 13.3 million confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the U.S., while at least 266,300 people have died, according to The New York Times' coronavirus database.
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