• By DeeDee Stiepan

Mayo Clinic leader discusses post-Thanksgiving COVID-19 surge, vaccination planning

December 1, 2020
a Mayo Clinic nurse in PPE, wearing blues gloves and gently touching the hand of a patient in a hospital bed during COVID-19 pandemic

The Midwest is continuing to see a surge in COVID-19 cases. Dr. Amy W. Williams, executive dean of practice for Mayo Clinic, says approximately 300 COVID-19 patients are being treated on a daily basis in Mayo Clinic's hospitals in the Midwest. On top of the current surge, a post-Thanksgiving surge is forecasted.

Watch: Dr. Amy W. Williams discusses a potential post-Thanksgiving COVID-19 surge, vaccination plans.

Journalists: Broadcast-quality sound bites with Dr. Williams are available in the downloads. Please courtesy: "Amy Williams, M.D. / Executive dean for practice/ Mayo Clinic"

"We're anticipating, after Thanksgiving — just like we saw after MEA (Minnesota Educator Academy break) and after Halloween — that there is going to be an increase in numbers of symptomatic individuals with COVID-19 infections, as well as people that are asymptomatic and just don't know they're infected yet," says Dr. Williams.

For those who traveled or attended large gatherings where social distance couldn't be maintained, Dr. Williams offers some advice.

"I would recommend watching your symptoms very carefully, making sure that nobody who was at that gathering has developed symptoms. And if they have, get tested even if you're asymptomatic."

Dr. Williams says Mayo Clinic is prepared to respond to another potential spike in positive cases.

"With our very robust modeling, we have been predicting this surge that we're in now and the next surge after Thanksgiving," she says. "We are already enhancing what we're doing at the moment. For instance, every day we're looking at the capacity in the hospitals. Do we have enough staff there? Do we have enough beds as well as the capacity to manage patients with COVID-19 who are in the outpatient setting, at home and don't need hospitalization? We continue to monitor them each day. We look at our practice and say, 'Do we need to adjust our elective surgical volumes for individuals who may need to stay in the hospital after surgery.' Every case is reviewed to determine if it appropriate to delay the surgery.”

Vaccination planning

A Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advisory panel is working to develop guidance on who should be prioritized to receive the first rounds of COVID-19 vaccine. Dr. Williams says she is very hopeful about the vaccine, and explains how Mayo Clinic is planning for staff and patient vaccinations.

"The data that we know so far shows that the two vaccines with emergency use authorization are very effective, which is spectacular. We already have processes in place, (so) that as soon as the vaccine is here, we are ready to give it. We have a whole team that has been working on this for the last month and a half, so that we would be ready to vaccinate as the vaccines become available and priorities are set for who will receive the vaccinations," says Dr. Williams.

Learn more about: Tracking and trending COVID-19

Nov. 30, 2020 coronavirus-covid-19-map

Information in this post was accurate at the time of its posting. Due to the fluid nature of the COVID-19 pandemic, scientific understanding, along with guidelines and recommendations, may have changed since the original publication date

For the safety of its patients, staff and visitors, Mayo Clinic has strict masking policies in place. Anyone shown without a mask was recorded prior to COVID-19 or in an area not designated for patient care, where social distancing and other safety protocols were followed.

For more information and all your COVID-19 coverage, go to the Mayo Clinic News Network and mayoclinic.org.