Dr. Anthony Fauci has warned Americans to bunker down for a tough holiday season, as Christmas and New Year’s are likely to be just as muted by the coronavirus as Thanksgiving was.
Speaking with USA Today, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases warned of surging COVID-19 cases throughout December.
“If the surge takes a turn of continuing to go up and you have the sustained greater than 100,000 infections a day and 1,300 deaths per day and the count keeps going up and up … I don’t see it being any different during the Christmas and New Year’s holidays than during Thanksgiving.”
Fauci ― who had previously joked that the one person safe from the coronavirus during Christmas time was Santa himself ― added that within his family, the holidays would be quieter affairs, with his daughter chiming in via Zoom.
“For my own family, I’m saying we had a really great Thanksgiving and Christmas last year,” he said. “We’re looking forward to a really great Thanksgiving and Christmas in 2021. Let’s now make the best of the situation and show our love and affection for people by keeping them safe.”
These remarks are similar to a conversation Fauci had with CNN’s Jake Tapper earlier this month. Tapper suggested that a normal Christmas looked like an impossibility in 2020, which Fauci agreed with. The infectious disease expert said that next year could see a return to normalcy, but stressed that such a transition would be incremental.
“It’s not going to be a light switch,” Fauci said at the time, adding: “We’re not going to turn it on and off. … It’s going to be a gradual accrual of more normality as the weeks and the months go by.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has warned on its website that despite the loneliness and stress of the pandemic, holiday “gatherings with family and friends who do not live with you can increase the chances of getting or spreading COVID-19 or the flu.”
Despite this advice, data from the Transportation Security Administration indicated that more than 2 million airline travelers had been screened last week on Friday and Saturday. One day before Thanksgiving, on Wednesday, 1,070,967 travelers passed through TSA security. While this number is markedly lower than the 2,624,250 screened in 2019, it is still the single-day highest volume of travelers since March 16, when COVID-19 restrictions began sweeping across the U.S.