Dr Fauci says Americans should consider cancelling Thanksgiving plans as Covid-19 cases surge

Expert called it an “unfortunate fact” that Thanksgiving gatherings could kick the spread of the virus into an even higher gear

Andrew Naughtie
Friday 16 October 2020 11:11 BST
Dr Fauci cautions against Thanksgiving celebrations

As coronavirus cases and hospitalisations continue to rise in many parts of the US, top government health adviser Dr Anthony Fauci has warned Americans that Thanksgiving gatherings could present a serious transmission risk.

Calling it an “unfortunate fact” that Thanksgiving gatherings could kick the spread of the virus into an even higher gear, Dr Fauci expressed his regret that Americans might have to choose between coming together as a family and their own and others’ safety.

“That is unfortunately a risk,” he told CBS News on Wednesday, “when you have people coming from out of town, gathering together in an indoor setting, you don’t know what the status of it is – it is unfortunate because that’s such a sacred part of American tradition, the family gathering around Thanksgiving, but that is a risk.”

With just over a month to go until Thanksgiving, around 700 Americans are dying of the coronavirus every day; the national death toll is approaching 217,000. While not all states are seeing sharp increases in their infection and hospitalisation rates, many have seen spikes and even record numbers.

“I think given the fluid and dynamic nature of what's going on right now in the spread and the uptick of infections,” Dr Fauci warned, “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.

“Namely, 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.”

Asked what his own Thanksgiving would look like, Dr Fauci said it would look “very different”.

“I would love to have it with my children, but my children are in three separate states throughout the country. And in order for them to get here they would all have to go to an airport, get on a plane, travel with public transportation. They themselves, because of their concern for me and my age, have decided they are not going to come home for Thanksgiving even though all three of them want very much to come home for Thanksgiving.”

More than 50m Americans travelled long-distance to see their families last year, the majority of them by car. While interstate car and plane travel is not banned at present, different states have different quarantine and social distancing requirements in place, and some oblige people entering from most other states to enter a 14-day quarantine period after they arrive.

In another interview on Thursday, Dr Fauci spoke out against a recent declaration from a group of scientists endorsing the idea that the US give up on trying to fight the virus through lockdowns and social distancing and instead pursue “herd immunity”.

In what they call the Great Barrington Declaration, the scientists say the US should “allow those who are at minimal risk of death to live their lives normally to build up immunity to the virus through natural infection, while better protecting those who are at highest risk.”

Speaking on Good Morning America, Dr Fauci dismissed the proposal outright. "If you talk to anybody who has any experience in epidemiology and infectious diseases,” he said, “they will tell you that that is risky and you'll wind up with many more infections of vulnerable people, which will lead to hospitalisations and death.

“So I think that we've just got to look that square in the eye and say it's nonsense.”

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