COVID-19 In Pittsburgh: Holiday Season Has Potential Spread Virus ‘Like Wildfire,’ Doctor Says

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — The two words being widely repeated this holiday season are not “Happy Thanksgiving” or “Merry Christmas.”

Instead, “stay home” and “stay safe” are being stressed all across the country as coronavirus cases continue climbing.

According to Dr. Brian Lamb of Allegheny Health Network, this holiday season has the potential to boost coronavirus infections to the likes of which we have never seen.

He told KDKA that rising hospitalizations could be looming if holiday gatherings continue throughout the season.

“This holiday season has the potential to see the disease spread like wildfire,” said Dr. Lamb.

As coronavirus infections explode, with cases topping one million in the U.S. this week, the CDC is recommending people pause their travel plans and only celebrate Thanksgiving around those they live with.

“You’re going to be sharing the same air. Even if you’re six feet away, if you’re in someone’s house, the air is being recirculated,” said Dr. Lamb.

The doctor also stressed that there is no safe way to break bread without breaking safety protocols, saying “most likely, you’re not going to be wearing a mask. This celebration revolves around food and coming together and you’re not going to be wearing a mask for that.”

Dr. Lamb also said that small gatherings could cause exponential spread, where one person could potentially infect countless others, putting stress on our local hospital systems.

“We could see these numbers going through the roof where we can’t even calculate, and we may not even be able to test everyone if this many people get sick. It could overwhelm us,” said Dr. Lamb.

The doctor is sending one final plea for people to celebrate virtually this Thanksgiving.

“This could be the last year you celebrate with your loved ones because they may not be here next year if you do this,” said Dr. Lamb.

Dr. Lamb said there will be rising hospitalizations if people do not follow the public health guidelines this holiday season.

Right now, there are enough hospital beds to house patients in the Allegheny Health Network. And there are contingency plans in the works should there be an exponential rise in case numbers, according to Dr. Lamb.