Dr. Fauci suggests canceling Thanksgiving gatherings amid COVID uptick

With Thanksgiving around the corner, Dr. Anthony Fauci issued a dire warning about the surging coronavirus cases around the country — saying that people “may have to bite the bullet and sacrifice that social gathering,” according to a report.

The 79-year-old top infectious diseases doctor told “CBS Evening News” on Wednesday that his three children will not be coming home for the holiday because his age puts him at increased risk.

“You may have to bite the bullet and sacrifice that social gathering, unless you’re pretty certain that the people that you’re dealing with are not infected,” Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told anchor Norah O’Donnell.

Noting that COVID-19 cases are surging in 37 states, Fauci said that “what we really have to do is double down” during the cooler weather on preventive measures like social distancing, wearing masks and washing hands.

“They sound very simple, but people are not doing that and that’s why we have an uptick in cases,” he said.

The situation could get even worse as families across the country travel and gather for the holiday season, Fauci added.

“That is unfortunately a risk, when you have people coming from out of town, gathering together in an indoor setting,” he said. “It is unfortunate, because that’s such a sacred part of American tradition — the family gathering around Thanksgiving. But that is a risk.”

He continued: “Given the fluid and dynamic nature of what’s going on right now in the spread and the uptick of infections, I think people should be very careful and prudent about social gatherings, particularly when members of the family might be at a risk because of their age or their underlying condition.”

Fauci said his children, who live in three different states, have decided to stay away this year amid the pandemic.

“They themselves, because of their concern for me and my age, have decided they’re not going to come home for Thanksgiving — even though all three of them want very much to come home for Thanksgiving,” he said.

Fauci also addressed President Trump’s recent bout with the coronavirus.

“We’re very, very pleased” with how well the president is doing, he said, but warned that not everyone who contracts the deadly bug will be as fortunate as Trump, who was treated with variety of aggressive and experimental treatments at Walter Reed Medical Center.

As for Trump’s promise that the Regeneron antibody cocktail will be made available to all Americans who need it, Fauci said that’s not yet feasible because there aren’t enough doses to go around.

The president has urged people to not be afraid of the virus or let it “dominate” their lives — but Fauci pushed back at the suggestion.

“That’s sort of like saying someone was speeding in a car at 95 miles an hour and didn’t get in an accident, so I can go ahead and speed and not get in an accident. There’s a great deal of variability,” he said.

“We’re very, very pleased that the president did so well when he was infected with the coronavirus, but there are also a lot of people who are his age and his weight which did not do as well as the president did. The president was fortunate,” Fauci added.

He also said he signed off on Trump’s participation in an NBC town hall Thursday night after looking at the “totality” of the tests the president has taken.

“I, and one of my colleagues who’s very experienced in this, Dr. Cliff Lane, came to the conclusion — I think certainly correctly — that he is of no threat to transmit the virus to anybody else,” Fauci told O’Donnell.

Asked whether Trump is putting the people who travel with him in peril, he replied: “The answer to that is no, he is not.”

Fauci’s warnings about the upcoming holiday come as the director of the Centers for Disease and Prevention said that even small gatherings are becoming a source of infection nationwide.

“In the public square, we’re seeing a higher degree of vigilance and mitigation steps in many jurisdictions,” Dr. Robert Redfield told governors on a call Tuesday, The Hill reported.

“But what we’re seeing as the increasing threat right now is actually acquisition of infection through small household gatherings,” he said. “Particularly with Thanksgiving coming up, we think it’s really important to stress the vigilance of these continued mitigation steps in the household setting.”

As of Thursday, the death toll from the coronavirus in the US stood at 216,904, with more than 7.9 million reported cases, according to Johns Hopkins University.

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