Anthony Fauci, America's top infectious diseases expert, has warned that the US might witness a "surge upon a surge" of new coronavirus cases in the weeks after Thanksgiving due to cold weather and travel.
"We don't want to frighten people, but that's just the reality," Xinhua news agency quoted Fauci, Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, as saying on Sunday night in an ABC News interview.
"Having said that, we have to be careful now because there almost certainly is going to be an uptick because of what has happened with the travel.
"We understand the importance of families getting together. And it's just something that we have to deal with that we likely will have an increase in cases, as we get into the colder weeks of the winter, and as we approach the Christmas season," he added.
Fauci urged travellers to be safe when returning home from holiday travels, encouraging them to quarantine if possible and to get tested.
When asked if people should expect similar restrictions and recommendations for Christmas this year, the top expert replied: "I can't see how we're not gonna have the same thing because when you have the kind of infection that we have, it doesn't all of a sudden turn around like that.
"So clearly in the next few weeks, we're gonna have the same sort of thing and perhaps even two or three weeks down the line... We may see a surge upon a surge."
Fauci added that he did not foresee "a relaxation" of the current Center for Disease Control (CDC) restrictions.
His warning came as more than 90,000 Covid-19 patients are currently hospitalized across the US, with over 18,000 in intensive care units, according to the Covid Tracking Project.
In its latest update on Monday, the Johns Hopkins University revealed that the US' current caseload and death toll stood at 13,374,162 and 266,838, respectively.
The two tallies account for the world's highest, making the US the worst-hit country.