Story at a glance

  • Anthony Fauci warned that people celebrating Thanksgiving should screen guests carefully.
  • The CDC earlier confirmed that small gatherings are a leading component in COVID-19 spread.

As the seasons change, the COVID-19 pandemic remains constant. With summer weather coming to an end and activities picking up indoors, public health experts are concerned virus transmission will increase with people in closer proximity in circulated air environments.

To help combat the potentially cataclysmic dual outbreaks of COVID-19 and influenza, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have already advised against traditional Halloween trick-or-treating to reduce contact.

Anthony Fauci, the leading infectious disease expert in the U.S. and head of the National Institute of Allergies and Infectious Diseases, agrees. Acknowledging the beloved holiday is an American tradition, Fauci told CBS that Americans should limit their guest list this holiday season. 


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Failure to appropriately mitigate the risk of a COVID-19 infection could lead to Thanksgiving festivities becoming superspreader events.

“That's really an unfortunate fact that is going to cause obviously some concern about everyone who looks forward to the holidays and interacting with family members that they haven't seen in a while. That is, unfortunately, a risk,” Fauci said. 

The primary problems will be the setting of these small to mid-sized gatherings; people from out-of-town gathering in an indoor setting with circulated air could easily become a hotbed for virus transmission, especially if people take public transportation like planes.

Fauci gave a personal example, saying that his children, who live in multiple different states, will not be returning home for the holiday, out of concern for their father and his age. 

Older individuals, along with people with preexisting health conditions, stand at an increased likelihood for severe COVID-19 infections. 

For those who will still host gatherings, Fauci’s advice is to screen guests carefully. 

“I think 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.”

More holidays are likely to be altered to help mitigate the virus spread, specifically Thanksgiving, which CDC Director Robert Redfield warned can lead to serious upticks in COVID-19 cases as the virus is now primarily transmitting through small gatherings. 

“What we're seeing as the increasing threat right now is actually acquisition of infection through small household gatherings," Redfield said to state governors during a call. "Particularly with Thanksgiving coming up, we think it's really important to stress the vigilance of these continued mitigation steps in the household setting."

The CDC released guidance on safely celebrating fall and winter holidays during the pandemic.


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Published on Oct 15, 2020