Top infectious diseases expert Anthony Fauci said this week that he won’t be seeing his three adult daughters for Christmas for the first time since they were born.
Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told The Washington Post’s Power Up that his family will follow Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommendations and avoid gathering for the holiday.
“I'm going to be with my wife — period,” he said in the Monday interview. “The Christmas holiday is a special holiday for us because Christmas Eve is my birthday. And Christmas Day is Christmas Day. And they are not going to come home.”
“That's painful,” the expert, who will be turning 80, added. “We don't like that. But that's just one of the things you're going to have to accept as we go through this unprecedented challenging time.”
Fauci cautioned that the U.S. has “a big problem” with the “quite dramatic” number of cases, deaths and hospitalizations increasing, and Christmas gatherings could make the situation worse, similarly to Thanksgiving.
“Stay at home as much as you can, keep your interactions to the extent possible to members of the same household. ... This cannot be business as usual this Christmas because we're already in a very difficult situation, and we're going to make it worse, if we don't do something about it,” Fauci warned, according to the Post.
The country's top infectious diseases expert said Americans can’t “run away from the data” to get together for the holidays. Fauci also cautioned that testing negative before travel or gathering “doesn’t mean you’re going to be negative tomorrow.”
He recommended to tell family members and friends, who may struggle to understand, “'This is an unusual situation, it's not going to last forever, it is highly likely that with vaccines being distributed, that we will be back to normal by next Christmas.'”
The vaccine from Pfizer and BioNTech started its distribution throughout the U.S. this week, with priority being given to vulnerable populations and health care workers.
Despite the CDC recommending against travel and gathering with people outside of one’s household for Thanksgiving, millions traveled, with record-breaking numbers of airplane passengers since March.
The country is seeing the effects of Thanksgiving on its coronavirus numbers, with new daily deaths jumping by 13.6 percent, hospitalizations increasing by 7.7 percent and cases rising by 2 percent this week compared to last week.
The positivity rate has reached 11.1 percent, despite tests only increasing by 4.9 percent since last week, according to the Post.