Experts warn that coronavirus figures may not be reliable for next week, as testing rates plummeted over the Thanksgiving holiday, the Associated Press reports.
Many testing sites across the country had reduced opening hours during the holidays, and fewer people were likely to get tested while traveling or holding rallies.
These factors could potentially lead to an overall decrease in reported COVID-19 cases, leading people to believe that the incidence of the virus is declining when in reality the increase in travel and social gatherings over the past week is likely to result in a increase in the number of cases.
“I just hope people don’t misinterpret the numbers and think there hasn’t been a big increase as a result of Thanksgiving and then end up doing Christmas and Hanukkah and other travel plans.” Leana Wen, professor at George Washington University, told the AP.
Numbers are likely to drop for a few days after Thanksgiving before rising again as testing centers reopen with normal hours and results catch up, said Mark Rupp, professor and chief of infectious diseases at the Medical Center ‘University of Nebraska at Omaha.
This phenomenon is observed repeatedly after weekends, as many test sites are closed on Saturdays and Sundays; Reported positive coronavirus cases plummet on Monday to rise rapidly again later in the week, according to the AP.
“Where we are now is a totally unsustainable place. I think it is extremely frustrating for those of us in health care that our calls go unheeded,” Wen said. “And the level of alarm that we have is not reflected in the behavior of individuals.”
Coronavirus cases continue to rise rapidly across the country, with officials warning of a long winter ahead. The number of coronavirus infections in the United States exceeded 13 million the day after Thanksgiving.