The coronavirus surge is here, with 47 states in the "red zone," according to the White House Coronavirus Task Force, and more than a million cases this week, a record 200,000 in a single day, this past Friday. More than 83,000 people are hospitalized with COVID-19 right now. By one measure, the virus is the third-most common cause of death in America.
"The house is on fire right now," said Washington Gov. Jay Inslee. In the midst of all this, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation's top infectious disease expert, spoke with host Margaret Brennan on CBS' Face the Nation this morning to serve a warning about the upcoming holidays—Thanksgiving and Christmas, too. Read on, and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had Coronavirus.
Dr. Fauci Says Christmas May Look Different This Year—Unless We All Band Together
Brennan pointed out that 50 million are expected to travel this Thanksgiving, despite the CDC pleading with Americans to not do so. "The safest way to celebrate Thanksgiving this year is at home with members of your household," said Erin Sauber-Schatz, who leads the agency's community intervention and critical population task force. That's because coronavirus spread has been linked to family gatherings.
Fauci—who has said he does not want to "be the Grinch that stole the holidays"—laid down the truth. "What you don't want to see is another spike in cases that we get, [as it gets] colder and colder into December, and then you start dealing with the Christmas holiday," said Dr. Fauci. "We can really be in a very difficult situation. So you want to tell people to please seriously consider decisions that you make."
He said new information has made this more urgent than ever. "It's one of the things that we didn't fully realize that one of the spots, if you want to call them, where you have a risk is seemingly innocent family, friends get together indoors—I mean, seems like the most natural thing." But the infections are starting there; the surge started because of those kinds of gatherings. "So that's the reason why we can tell people, consider the people that you want to get into your own family unit. You want to bring a large number of people with a big dinner party or social event? And when you're eating and drinking, obviously you have to take your mask off? We know now that those are the kinds of situations that are leading to outbreaks."
Brennan asked, "Does that advice expire after Thanksgiving? Is Christmas canceled too?"
"We don't know what's going to happen," said Fauci. "And it could actually, if we don't do this correctly and pay close attention to the reality of what's possible, if we ignore these recommendations that you can continue to have that exponential increase as you get into Christmas. And that's one of the things we're concerned about."
Dr. Fauci Said You Need to Do a Risk-Benefit Determination
Fauci knows it's tempting to have Grandma or your BFF over. "It's a natural reaction to say, now, wait a minute. I know these people, you know, they're friends they're coming in. You tend to almost intuitively and instinctively let you let your guard down. Now, you don't want to say that no one can come in, but you can have people that have their own pods of protection. People who might quarantine themselves, who might get a test, but in general, where I would recommend them. And I do this every day—is to tell families to just take a moment to do what I call a risk-benefit determination. If I have someone in my home, who's elderly, someone who has an underlying condition—do I really want to put that person at risk from someone who innocently or inadvertently could infect them? Because we know clearly that people who don't have symptoms are clearly capable and are transmitting the infection. So just think about it for a moment, the risk now, versus the long range of what you can do."
How to Survive the Pandemic
Fauci wasn't all warnings this week. He joked that "Santa is not going to be spreading any infections to anybody…Santa is exempt from this because Santa, of all the good qualities, has a lot of good innate immunity," Fauci told USA TODAY this week. That said, avoid contact with mall santas. You don't know where they've been. And follow Dr. Fauci's fundamentals:
Universal wearing of masks.
Maintaining physical distance.
Avoiding congregate settings or crowds.
Doing more outdoors, as opposed to indoors.
Washing hands frequently.
And to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these 35 Places You're Most Likely to Catch Coronavirus.