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Thanksgiving COVID-19 Infections May Pop, Immunologist Warns

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Nearly half of Marylanders planned to gather indoors for Thanksgiving, despite warnings from public health experts that those gatherings may exacerbate the latest surge in COVID-19 cases, according to a University of Maryland Medical System survey last week.

Now, Dr. Chris Thompson, an immunologist and Associate Professor of Biology at Loyola University Maryland, said we’re about to see whether there will be consequences to those decisions.

<--break->“We’re in the time frame when we’re going to see them pop up and I fear for the hospitals,” he said on WYPR’s podcast The Daily Dose.

He said most people start showing COVID-19 symptoms four to six days after getting infected.

Gov. Larry Hogan said in a news conference Tuesday that COVID hospitalizations in Maryland are at their highest since May, increasing by 51% over the last two weeks. And he predicted they would reach a record high in the coming days.

And to make matters worse, Thompson added, flu season often peaks around Christmas, urging Maryland residents to get their flu shot.

“We can't overburden hospitals even more with influenza patients,” he said.

Thompson says he is hopeful about the COVID-19 vaccine, and that it’s possible it will become available to the general public by March or April.

Sarah Y. Kim is WYPR’s health and housing reporter. Kim is WYPR's Report for America corps member, and Anthony Brandon Fellow. Kim joined WYPR as a 2020-2021 corps member for Report for America, an initiative of The GroundTruth Project that pairs young journalists with local newsrooms. Now in her second year as an RFA corps member, Kim is based in Baltimore City.
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