Stanford doctor warns to rethink holiday travel as COVID surges

With Thanksgiving two weeks away, the doctor in charge of Stanford’s Critical Care Task Force for Covid-19 is making a plea to rethink the holiday and limit travel. Dr. Angela Rogers warns the Bay Area may see another surge in cases.

Rogers is anticipating a third wave following peaks in April and August. She said the peak could occur after the holidays if people don't heed the warnings. She’s especially nervous given the sudden rise in cases in the past week.

“Right now, there is danger coming our way even though you have done everything. Right now is the time to be especially careful,” said Dr. Rogers.

Rogers is a pulmonary and critical care physician, on the frontlines treating Stanford’s sickest Covid-19 patients in the ICU.

“ICU doctors and ER doctors that have been really focused on the last seven months looking at what's happening even in the Bay Area right now,” said Rogers. “We’re scared.”

Rogers said after weeks of the Bay Area trending in the right direction, the opposite has happened. In the last seven days, in Santa Clara County, cases rose 50 percent. There have been similar increases in San Francisco and San Mateo counties.

“It’s like whoa we are going backward instead of slowly reopening and getting better and better,” said Rogers.

She said it will likely get worse with pandemic fatigue setting in and holiday travel especially among college students.

“There’s a large influx of mixing of people that’s coming our way very soon, at the time when we have to be indoors more, our kids are in school,” said Dr. Rogers.

Despite guidance from health officials to limit non-essential travel, airlines are expecting people to fly.

American Airlines is increasing its flights by 15 percent. United Airlines is predicting Thanksgiving Week will be its busiest since March.

“We will take a tour of the living room, dining room,” said Beth Kanter of Campbell.

Kanter plans to stay home and not visit family on the East Coast.

“Being on the plane they have good air filtration but you have to get to the airport, be in the airport,” said Kanter.

“It’s better to hunker down get through this,” said Bill Iammatteo of Campbell. “I don’t know exactly why there’s this huge surge going on.”

Doctor Rogers said Stanford Hospital is gearing up for potentially dozens of patients in the ICU in the coming weeks.

Her biggest worry is what's happening now in the Midwest, hospitals reaching capacity could happen here.

“How important is it to fly right now versus if there could be a vaccine that’s widely available by April that’s amazing,” said Rogers. “Could we wait a little bit longer.”