Health officials across the country expected and are seeing an increase in coronavirus infections and deaths following the Thanksgiving holiday when about 1.5 million Americans traveled to see families despite warnings not to do so.

The effects of the holiday weekend likely won’t be done being felt for weeks.

The more concerning statistic is hospitalizations, which ballooned across the state last month.

Geisinger Medical Center reported Sunday that 93 patients were hospitalized for treatment of COVID-19. Hospitals in Lycoming County had a combined total of 70 admitted patients, Evangelical Community Hospital in Lewisburg had 42 hospitalized patients and Geisinger’s Shamokin Area Community Hospital reported 15 patients.

As of Sunday afternoon, Geisinger Medical Center in Danville had 24 patients in the Intensive Care Unit. At Evangelical Community Hospital, there were 10 patients in the ICU and Geisinger’s Shamokin Area Community Hospital, reported three patients in the ICU.

Due to the nature of this airborne virus, certain precautions have to be taken, and with the post-Thanksgiving projections in mind, health experts are rightfully concerned that hospitals will exceed capacity in the coming months, especially if those post-Thanksgiving concerns come to fruition.

A vaccine is nearing completion and distribution could begin this month. The arrival of the first doses won’t mean the end of COVID-19 and won’t end the pandemic. We still have a long journey ahead of us. This could be a dark winter for people around the globe.

We all need to do our parts and that begins at home. Limit visits with people outside of your household circle. When among friends, neighbors and fellow grocery store shoppers outside of that circle — even in your own home — wear a mask and social distance.

We can’t reverse what may have happened over the Thanksgiving holiday, but we can try to avert the darkest of winter predictions.

Stay healthy. Protect yourself and your loved ones.

NOTE: Opinions expressed in The Daily Item’s editorials are the consensus of the publisher, top newsroom executives and community members of the editorial board. Today’s was written by News Editor Eric Pehowic.

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