Dr. Anthony Fauci says Americans should rethink their usual plans for Thanksgiving gatherings, citing increased coronavirus infections and hospitalizations.
Fauci told ABC's "Good Morning America" on Thursday that given the rise in cases, "we've really got to double down on fundamental public health measures that we talk about every day because they can make a difference."
As for Thanksgiving, when millions of Americans travel to gather with families and friends, Fauci says this November may need to be different. "We really have to be careful this time that each individual family evaluates the risk-benefit."
The U.S. government's top infectious disease expert says it's especially important because people traveling over the holiday often pass through crowded transportation hubs such as airports.
"If you have vulnerable people, the elderly or people that have underlying conditions, you better consider whether you want to do that now or maybe just forestall it and wait," Fauci says.
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Fauci on herd immunity
Dr. Anthony Fauci is criticizing a declaration by a group of scientists that supports the concept of "herd immunity," which the White House is using to bolster a push to reopen schools and businesses.
Fauci says backing herd immunity - the idea that a disease will stop spreading once nearly everybody has contracted it - is "total nonsense."
The top U.S. infectious disease expert says: "If you talk to anybody who has any experience in epidemiology and infectious diseases, they will tell you that that is risky and you'll wind up with many more infections of vulnerable people, which will lead to hospitalizations and death," he told ABC's "Good Morning America" on Thursday. "So I think that we've just got to look that square in the eye and say it's nonsense."
The U.S. leads the world with 7.9 million coronavirus cases and nearly 217,000 confirmed deaths. Globally, there have been 38 million reported cases and 1.09 million confirmed deaths.
CDC guidelines on lower-risk, moderate-risk and higher-risk activities:
- Having a small dinner with only people who live in your household
- Preparing traditional family recipes for family and neighbors, especially those at higher risk of severe illness from COVID-19, and delivering them in a way that doesn't involve contact with others
- Having a virtual dinner and sharing recipes with friends and family
- Shopping online rather than in person on the day after Thanksgiving or the next Monday
- Watching sports events, parades, and movies from home
- Having a small outdoor dinner with family and friends who live in your community
- Lower your risk by following CDC's recommendations on hosting gatherings or cook-outs.
- Visiting pumpkin patches or orchards where people use hand sanitizer before touching pumpkins or picking apples, wearing masks is encouraged or enforced, and people are able to maintain social distancing
- Attending a small outdoor sports events with safety precautions in place
Avoid these higher-risk activities to help prevent the spread of the virus that causes COVID-19, the CDC says:
- Going shopping in crowded stores just before, on, or after Thanksgiving
- Participating or being a spectator at a crowded race
- Attending crowded parades
- Using alcohol or drugs, which can cloud judgment and increase risky behaviors
- Attending large indoor gatherings with people from outside of your household
For more information about the guidelines, please visit the CDC online.