Dr. Fauci Says This One Thing Could Spread COVID More Than Anything Yet
The top health official has expressed concerns that the worst days of the pandemic are still ahead.
Medical experts warned that Thanksgiving travel and gatherings could cause COVID cases to skyrocket, and now, the U.S. is witnessing an unprecedented surge from coast to coast. But unfortunately, it seems the worst could still be yet to come, according to Anthony Fauci, MD. During a series of new interviews, the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) director said the upcoming major holidays could spread COVID more than anything we've seen in this pandemic yet.
Fauci expressed concern that while we may not have witnessed the full severity of the expected Thanksgiving surge yet, we could experience an even worse increase as a result of Christmas, Hanukkah, and other winter holidays. Read on to see why the top infectious disease doctor thinks we're in for a hard winter, and for more on his thoughts on keeping the novel coronavirus in check, consider Dr. Fauci Says This Is When You "Don't Have Any Choice" But to Lock Down.
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We don't yet know how bad the Thanksgiving surge will be.
Despite the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issuing an advisory that Americans should avoid traveling and hosting gatherings for Thanksgiving, data from the TSA found that people were taking to the skies in numbers not seen since the pandemic began in March, The Washington Post reports. Now, the impending rise in cases could be making an already tenuous situation even worse.
"The blip from Thanksgiving isn't even here yet," Fauci said during an interview with Norah O'Donnell of CBS News during the Milken Institute Future of Health Summit. "So we're getting those staggering numbers of new cases and hospitalizations before we even feel the full brunt of the Thanksgiving holiday," he explained.
Fauci added that it is now more important than ever that people follow basic health guidelines such as wearing a mask and practicing social distancing. And for the one face covering to avoid, check out This Type of Face Mask Isn't Protecting You From COVID, WHO Warns.
But the coming holidays will bring worse outbreaks than Thanksgiving.
As bad as Thanksgiving may have been forecasted to be, Fauci still believes that the upcoming winter holidays pose an entirely different threat because of the way they're celebrated. During an interview with CNN on Dec. 7, Fauci said that his fears for increased infections during Christmas and Hanukkah were worse: "This may be even more compounded because it's a longer holiday."
"I think it could be even more of a challenge than what we saw with Thanksgiving," Fauci told CNN. "I hope that people realize that and understand that as difficult as this is, nobody wants to modify—if not essentially shut down—their holiday season, but we are in a very critical time in this country right now." And for more on how to stay safe, check out Almost All COVID Transmission Is Happening in These 5 Places, Doctor Says.
And January could bring the very worst days of the entire pandemic.
While joining a regular press conference hosted by New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Dec. 7, Fauci didn't hold back with a grim prediction that the worst days of the pandemic are yet to come.
"The middle of January could be a really dark time for us," Fauci told reporters. "You'd expect that the effect of the Thanksgiving surge would be probably another week and week and a half from now, because it's usually two and a half weeks from the time of the event. The problem is, that's going to come right up to the beginning of the Christmas, Hanukkah potential surge." And for more updates from Fauci and on the pandemic, sign up for our daily newsletter.
But Fauci says it's not too late to avoid another spike.
Similar to Thanksgiving, Fauci said that the act of celebrating the holidays could put loved ones at risk even if great care is being taken to get tested or avoid those who are feeling ill.
"When I have family and friends over for the holidays, Christmas and Hanukkah, you get indoors you take your mask off because you're eating and drinking," Fauci said during Cuomo's press conference. "And you don't realize that there may be somebody that you know, that you love, that's a friend, that's a family member, who is perfectly well with no symptoms, and yet they got infected in the community, and brought it into that small gathering that you're now having in your home."
He also advised that anyone still planning on gathering with family should go to great lengths to make sure they're regularly washing their hands, wearing masks, and moving all festivities outdoors whenever possible. And for more on how the virus spreads, check out This Is the Only Time Someone With COVID Can't Get You Sick, Doctor Says.
And Fauci is taking his own advice about the holidays.
Fauci did take the opportunity to call out political leaders who had issued strict advisories and then violated them themselves. "That's a bad example," Fauci told O'Donnell. "Several of them, as we know from the news—I was watching the news last night—unfortunately, some of them did but they were caught."
But the NIAID director admitted that he wouldn't be going against his own warnings with his holiday plans: "For the first time in more than 30 years, I'm not spending the Christmas holidays with my daughters," Fauci said. And for more on when we might be able to put the pandemic behind us, check out Your Life Will Get "Back to Normal" by This Month, White House Says.