Small indoor gatherings of families and friends are driving coronavirus outbreaks across the country — and that has worrying implications for Thanksgiving, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, said Wednesday.
"You don't want to be the Grinch that stole the holidays," Fauci, who is director of the National Institutes of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said in a livestreamed interview with Dr. Howard Bauchner, editor of the Journal of the American Medical Association.
But as families plan for the coming festivities, they need to consider the risks of a gathering.
Coronavirus cases in the United States have reached new highs in recent days, with daily cases averaging around 70,000. The new surge doesn't bode well for the upcoming holiday season.
"We're going into a precarious situation," Fauci said. Cold weather is forcing people indoors, cases are going up in all age groups, and holidays are likely to bring people together in groups — a combination he called "a bad recipe for a tough time ahead."
Fauci noted that many infections are currently spread in small gatherings in people's homes.
"You get one person who's asymptomatic and infected, and then all of a sudden, four or five people in that gathering are infected," he said. "To me, that's the exact scenario that you're going to see on Thanksgiving."
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Fauci added that it doesn't mean everyone across the country should call off Thanksgiving.
"But if you are in a situation where you have people who are vulnerable and you really want to be safe with them, you might want to not bring them together into a big dinner, or a big gathering where you have the possibility of a high risk of infection," he said.
Older adults and people with underlying health conditions are particularly at risk. "You want to take a couple of steps back and say, 'Is it worth it for this year to bring those people together when you don't know what the status of everybody in that pod that you've created is?'" Fauci said.