‘A surge upon a surge’: Cuomo echoes Fauci’s stark warning for winter COVID-19 spread

A health worker provides a COVID-19 test at a drive-through testing site, in Staten Island, New York
A health worker provides a COVID-19 test at a drive-through testing site, as the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) continues to spread, in Staten Island on Nov. 25, 2020.
REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

As hospitalizations and deaths continue an uphill march, Governor Andrew Cuomo adopted a line from Dr. Anthony Fauci that the nation will soon be grappling with a “surge upon a surge.”

During a Sunday press conference, Cuomo told reporters that said “surge” may already be upon us as the state logged 3,372 new hospitalizations for COVID-19 patients on Saturday, with 55 deaths.

This came as the statewide positivity rate, including the micro-cluster zones, grew to 4.7% from 3.9%.

“It’s nice that we’re doing better in a national context and global context, but it’s irrelevant to one extent because we have to deal with the issues that we have here in New York, relative to New York, right?” Cuomo said. “People say we’re in the second wave, we’re not in the second wave. Second wave is a mutated virus… The first wave is increasing and, surge upon surge, it’s going to continue to increase.”

According to Cuomo, a spike that was projected to be around 20% during his briefings last week could be leveling off in the weeks following New Years. This will ultimately lead to the deployment of a vaccine, which two options will be made available in December.

The question of how states and localities will be able to deploy the vaccine with deficits mounting across the country is another matter that remains unanswered.

Image Courtesy of the Governor Andrew Cuomo’s office.

Fauci, executive director of the National Institute of Allergies and Infectious Diseases, spoke on multiple Sunday news programs about the grim situation facing the nation amid the second COVID-19 wave.

He said during his appearance on NBC’s Meet the Press that the large gatherings during Thanksgiving, combined with holiday travel, will likely serve to spike the numbers higher.

“What we expect, unfortunately, as we go into the next couple of weeks into December, that we might see a surge superimposed upon the surge we are already in,” Fauci said. He described the situation as “precarious” as the country is experiencing a steep rise in COVID-19 cases — and hospitals across the country are filling rapidly with patients, stressing the healthcare system.

It might take between three and five weeks before the second COVID-19 curve flattens nationally, according to Fauci — but only if Americans adhere to the advice given almost from the start to mask up, socially distance and avoid large gatherings. 

But at the current rate, Fauci indicated that further, localized restrictions to combat COVID-19 outbreaks might be inevitable. There is hope, however, with the impending arrival of a vaccine.

“We’re going to have to make decisions as a nation, states, cities and families that we’re in a very difficult time, and we’re going to have to do the kinds of restrictions of things that we would like to have done, particularly around the holidays,” Fauci said. “If we can hang together as a country and do these kinds of things to blunt these surges until we get a substantial proportion of the population vaccinated, we can get through this.”