(CNBC) – Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, said on Sunday that the U.S. is heading into a difficult period of the coronavirus pandemic and said current restrictions and travel advisories will be necessary for the Christmas holiday season.

“What we expect, unfortunately, as we go for the next couple of weeks into December, is that we might see a surge superimposed on the surge we are already in,” Fauci said in an interview with NBC’s “Meet the Press”. “I don’t want to frighten people, except to say it is not too late to do something about this.”

Fauci urged Americans to be careful as they return from Thanksgiving holiday travel and wear masks to mitigate the spread of the virus. While the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in November warned people against traveling for Thanksgiving, more than 9 million people traveled in airports in the week running up to the holiday and the weekend following it.

“I think we are going to have to make decisions as a nation, state, city, and family that we are in a very difficult time, and we’re going to have to do the kinds of restrictions of things we would have liked to have done, particularly in this holiday season, because we’re entering into what’s really a precarious situation,” Fauci said.

America has surpassed 13 million Covid-19 cases, according to data from Johns Hopkins University, and at least 266,000 people have died. As cases and deaths surge across the country, hospitals are struggling with a shortage of medical staff and capacity issues amid an influx of patients. READ MORE

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