Dr. Fauci Asks Americans to Seriously Reconsider Christmas Travel

COVID-19 vaccines are on the horizon, but we aren't out of the woods yet.

It's not the first time, nor the last time, that we'll be hearing this message, but top public health officials are doubling down on their request for Americans to stay put during the holidays this year to minimize the surge of new coronavirus cases.

In an interview with Andrea Mitchell on MSNBC this week, Dr. Anthony Fauci, longtime director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, voiced his concerns about people traveling for the holidays and hosting gatherings with extended family.

"The CDC is forecasting at this rate, we're going to see almost 20,000 COVID deaths Christmas week," Mitchell said to Fauci before asking if people should now cancel their Christmas travel plans.

Fauci responded by saying that although people will need to make individual decisions based on their situations, Americans should "seriously consider" minimizing their travel plans to the greatest extent possible and avoid congregating together.

"I know how difficult that is," Fauci admitted, noting that he and other public health officials have empathy and understand the desire to be with family and friends during the holidays, but "right now, that just should not be done to the best of our capabilities."

Prior to Thanksgiving, the nation was already seeing a sharp incline in new coronavirus cases. Fauci predicts that the numbers will skyrocket even more in a couple of weeks as a result of people ignoring CDC guidelines at Thanksgiving. By the time we start to see that post-Thanksgiving spike, people will already be packing their bags for Christmas and Hanukkah travels and planning holiday dinners.

"As the CDC said, and I'd have to agree with them, we're in for a very, very difficult couple of months of December and January," Fauci told Mitchell. "Having said that, rather than just throw our hands up in despair, there are things that we can do about it."

Here are the simple, yet often ignored, guidelines Fauci laid out as we navigate the current pandemic situation:

  • Wear a mask, no matter where you live.
  • Avoid close contact.
  • Avoid congregate settings and crowds, especially when they are indoors or people are not wearing masks.

"We don't have to lock down the economy over Christmas and over Hanukkah," he said, "but we can do some fundamental public health measures that will make a difference."

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Kyler Alvord is a news writer at Thrillist. Find him on Twitter and Instagram. Or don't. It's really up to you.