Fauci Says Americans Should Consider Canceling Thanksgiving as COVID Cases Soar
"You may have to bite the bullet and sacrifice that social gathering," the infectious disease expert said
As the Thanksgiving holiday approaches, Dr. Anthony Fauci is urging Americans to consider canceling the annual family celebration as COVID-19 cases continue to soar in most of the country.
With the rate of new infections once again trending upwards — there were 59,751 new COVID-19 cases in the U.S. on Wednesday, and 20 states recorded their highest number of new daily cases in the last week — Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said that gathering for Thanksgiving is “a risk.”
"That is unfortunately a risk, when you have people coming from out of town, gathering together in an indoor setting," he told host Norah O’Donnell on CBS Evening News Wednesday night. "It is unfortunate, because that's such a sacred part of American tradition — the family gathering around Thanksgiving. But that is a risk."
Fauci said that people may need to cancel their Thanksgiving plans this year.
"Given the fluid and dynamic nature of what's going on right now in the spread and the uptick of infections, 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," he said. "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."
RELATED VIDEO: Amanda Kloots, Widow of Nick Cordero, Calls Trump ‘Disgraceful’ for Minimizing Deadly Coronavirus
Fauci’s own Thanksgiving plans are “going to look very different this year,” he added. His three children, who live in three different states, decided not to come home this year to keep their dad safe as he continues to work on the COVID-19 pandemic at age 79.
"They themselves, because of their concern for me and my age, have decided they're not going to come home for Thanksgiving — even though all three of them want very much to come home for Thanksgiving," he said.
The infectious disease expert also said that Americans have to “double down” on COVID-19 precautions like social distancing, masking and hand washing with cases already surging with the long winter months ahead.
"They sound very simple, but people are not doing that and that's why we have an uptick in cases.” The rise in cases, Fauci said, is “not a good sign as you’re entering into the colder weather.”
As of Thursday morning, more than 7,954,700 Americans have tested positive for COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic, and at least 216,792 have died, according to The New York Times.
As information about the coronavirus pandemic rapidly changes, PEOPLE is committed to providing the most recent data in our coverage. Some of the information in this story may have changed after publication. For the latest on COVID-19, readers are encouraged to use online resources from the WHO and local public health departments. PEOPLE has partnered with GoFundMe to raise money for the COVID-19 Relief Fund, a GoFundMe.org fundraiser to support everything from frontline responders to families in need, as well as organizations helping communities. For more information or to donate, click here.