America’s top infectious disease expert is urging the nation to keep indoor gatherings as small as possible over Thanksgiving to prevent further spread of the novel coronavirus.
“We all know how difficult that is because this is such a beautiful, traditional holiday. But by making that sacrifice, you’re going to prevent people from getting infected,” Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told ABC News chief anchor George Stephanopoulos in an interview Wednesday on “Good Morning America.”
“A sacrifice now could save lives and illness and make the future much brighter as we get through this,” he continued. “We’re going to get through this. Vaccines are right on the horizon. If we can just hang in there a bit longer and continue to do the simple mitigation things that we’re talking about all the time — the masks, the distancing, the avoiding crowds, particularly indoor. If we do those things, we’re going to get through it. So that’s my final plea before the holiday.”
Fauci, a leading member of the current White House coronavirus task force, warned of “yet another surge” of COVID-19 infections if people don’t heed his advice over the holiday.
Although he acknowledged that the country’s current surge in cases is driven by larger indoor gatherings such as bars, Fauci noted that “there still is transmission among gatherings that appear to be relatively innocent.”
“Now, I don’t mean two, three, four people in a room. We’re talking about when people might have a modest size and let their guard down,” he added. “When you stay away from the bars, when you stay away from the big, congregate settings, there still is a danger if you bring people into the home who are not part of the immediate household. There is a risk there.”
Fauci also said he is “greatly” concerned by the number of people who are already showing hesitancy to taking a COVID-19 vaccine when it becomes available. He noted that “independent bodies of people who, in fact, have no allegiance to an administration or to a company” will be charged with deciding whether the vaccine is both safe and effective for the public.
“The process by which the vaccines were made were a standard process that was rapid because of exquisite scientific advances and the investment of an extraordinary amount money. It did not compromise safety and it did not compromise scientific integrity,” he said. “That’s what the public needs to understand, that the process is transparent and its independent.”
The solution to the coronavirus pandemic, Fauci said, will be “a combination of public health measures and a safe and effective vaccine.”
“It would really be terrible if we have, which we do, three now and maybe more highly efficacious vaccines and people don’t take it,” he added. “We could crush this outbreak exactly the way we did years ago with smallpox, with polio and with measles. It is doable.”