Dr. Anthony Fauci is urging Americans to “think twice” about traveling and having indoor gatherings for the holidays.
During a meeting with USA TODAY’s Editorial Board Wednesday, the nation’s top infectious disease expert said seemingly “innocent” family and friend dinner gatherings at home are where many of the infections are now stemming from.
“Because of the almost intuitive instinct that when you’re with people you know … and no one appears to be physically ill that it’s OK to congregate 10, 12 people for drinks or a meal or what have you, but it’s indoors because the weather is cold, that’s where we’re seeing these types of outbreaks,” the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases explained.
“As we get into the colder weather, we should really think twice about these kind of dinner parties where you’re not sure of whether the people that are in your bubble (are safe),” he said. “Then you’re going to start seeing these unanticipated infections related to innocent home gatherings, particularly as we head into the holiday season.”
Fauci’s recommendation? He advises that each person and family unit “should make a risk-benefit assessment.”
The assessment should consider, he says, the risk of going to a crowded airport and getting on a plane as well as whether you have family members who are elderly or have underlying conditions that would put them at a higher risk of a serious outcome.
“That should determine what your decision is about the risk you’re willing to take. Because the risk of not traveling is less than the risk of traveling,” he said. “So you’ve got to decide, during this interesting period of a lot of infection going on, colder weather, indoors: Do you want to travel and go to a Thanksgiving meal where there may be 12, 15, 20 people?”
Fauci’s own Thanksgiving plans have been affected by the pandemic. He says his three adult daughters, who all live in different parts of the country, decided not to come home this year.
“If they were going to come to Washington and see their daddy, they would have to travel,” he said, in addition to complications of quarantining and getting tested. “They made a decision because of my age, that as much as they would like to see me … that they are not going to come for Thanksgiving. … And I’m proud of them for that.”
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