Experts worry Thanksgiving gatherings will cause spike of virus cases going into Christmas

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WISCONSIN (CBS 58) -- A lot of people may have ignored health warnings and gathered in large groups for the Thanksgiving holiday, leaving experts concerned. 

Health experts urge people to get tested 3-5 days after a known exposure. So if a family member says they started feeling sick over the past weekend, you may want to get tested near the end of this week.

"I think what happened during Thanksgiving is a lot like a 100-mile-an-hour wind now coming into an intense forest fire," said Dr. Michael Osterholm, epidemiologist at the University of Minnesota.

In an interview on CBS This Morning, Dr. Osterholm said he worries that decisions made this past holiday will affect the next.

"We're going to see the virus activity then slingshot into the Christmas holiday season, and we're going to have many more people who are going to travel for that," he said.

It's a fear shared by public health leaders across the board.

"It's an analogy you really have to pay attention to, because myself, many in public health, in health care, we're all very concerned," said Dr. Nick Tomaro, preparedness coordinator for the Milwaukee Health Department. 

With scores of cars lined up for the start of testing at Miller Park Monday, Tomaro says a spike will show up in the next two weeks.

"Typically within two weeks, if you look at timing of travel, timing of gatherings and the incubation period of the virus, typically earliest about a week," said Dr. Tomaro.

Pediatrician Nicole Fortuna, with the Sixteenth Street Community Health Center, says the amount of COVID out there makes another surge likely.

"There's a good chance, and the more people you contact with, the more probability you came into contact with somebody positive," Dr. Fortuna said. 

She says kids who test positive come in with some congestion, maybe a sore throat, and adults have respiratory symptoms.

"If you are feeling sick, even if you have a negative test, you should really self-isolate," Dr. Fortuna said.

Dr. Tomaro says testing was down last week. He expects the number of people going to get tested at various Milwaukee sites will go up. 

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