EXPERTS said Covid-19 deaths could double to 4,000 within 10 days as US hospitalizations hit a record high of 90,000.
Dr Leana Wen made the stark prediction on Friday after Dr Anthony Fauci said a Christmas uptick was likely in December "if the surge takes a turn of continuing to go up."
The visiting professor at George Washington University Milken Institute School of Public Health echoed Fauci's fears of another holiday spike, saying "we cannot let our guard down."
"If anything, we are rounding the corner into a calamity. We're soon going to exceed well more than 2,000 deaths, maybe 3,000, 4,000 deaths every single day here in the US," Wen told CNN.
Her comments on Black Friday came as the country topped 13 million infections with 205,000 new cases, marking the 25th day in a row with more than 100,000 new cases in the USA.
At least 264,000 Americans have died from the deadly bug as five states set stark daily death records this week with 23 states reporting higher case counts than the previous week.
Wen urged people to quarantine if they have traveled and said although they would be vital come spring and summer, the vaccines are "not going to make a difference right now."
"If you are unable to get a test because testing remains so limited [after traveling] you should quarantine for 14 days. And I mean a full quarantine, don't go to work, don't go to school, keep safe," Wen added.
Dr Jonathan Reiner, a professor of medicine at George Washington University, also said the death toll would double in just over a week.
Fauci issued a similar assessment in USA Today interview this week, despite the announcement of Moderna and Pfizer's over 94 percent efficacious vaccines.
"You have the sustained greater than 100,000 infections a day and 1,300 deaths per day and the count keeps going up and up," he said.
"I don't see it being any different during the Christmas and New Year's holidays than during Thanksgiving."
He predicted that this surge will happen throughout December and into the New Year, adding that his family were preparing for another virtual celebration.
His three daughters had joined Fauci and his wife at Thanksgiving via video link to mitigate the spread of the virus.
"We're looking forward to a really great Thanksgiving and Christmas in 2021," Fauci said. "Let's now make the best of the situation and show our love and affection for people by keeping them safe.
"Given the cold weather and given the fact that these types of celebrations – as wonderful and beautiful and traditional as they are – are fundamentally indoor things with people who will be singing and laughing and eating and drinking."
"You've just got to be careful," the disease expert added after previously warning CNN's Jake Tapper that a normal Christmas wouldn't be "a light switch" once a vaccine is approved.
"It's going to be a gradual accrual of more normality as the weeks and the months go by," Fauci cautioned after over three million Americans flouted the CDC warnings to stay home at Thanksgiving.
TSA security screened 1,070,967 travelers the day before Thanksgiving but Sunday is set to be an even higher number as travelers return home from the holiday.
As a result, Reiner said Thanksgiving could "potentially the mother of all superspreader events" after those who did travel were urged to quarantine for at least seven days and then get tested.
More than 20 states have issued new restrictions when Americans are dying at a rate of around 65 per hour – but the death toll is set to worsen as people continue to gather at family events.
Hospitalizations reached 90,481 on Thursday and dipped to 89,834 by Friday, per CDC data – but the hospitalizations doubled since last month.
On Friday, the seven-day rolling average of new daily cases here rose to 165,724 with the rolling death average at 1,477.
But experts like Wen are afraid that people will misinterpret the numbers falling and think it's ok to travel and attend family gatherings,
Experts like Wen are concerned that the limited testing available over the Thanksgiving period will make people misinterpret the data and think it's ok to travel for family gatherings at Christmas and Hanukkah.
"We should prevent getting COVID-19 especially at this time when we're about to get a vaccine rolling out,' Ali Mokdad, professor of health metrics sciences at the Institute of Health Metrics and Evaluations agreed.
"We need to be extra careful these upcoming extra couple of weeks in order to avoid pain and suffering."
The Institute of Health Metrics and Evaluations have projected more than 450,000 daily cases by December 25 if the current surge in cases continues.
Donald Trump pledged that the coronavirus vaccines could be available to front-line workers, medical personnel and senior citizens within a fortnight during a Thanksgiving Video Teleconference at 5pm on Thursday.
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