Oct. 4, 2021 -- It’s too early to determine whether Americans should avoid large family gatherings for Christmas and other holidays due to COVID-19, Anthony Fauci, MD, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said Sunday.
COVID-19 cases and deaths have begun to plateau, but vaccination rates have dropped nationwide, and cases are increasing in children. The U.S. also hit a grim milestone over the weekend, surpassing 700,000 COVID-19 deaths.
Fauci noted that it’s “just too soon to tell” whether people should avoid holiday gatherings for a second year.
“We’ve just got to concentrate on continuing to get those numbers down and not try to jump ahead by weeks or months and say what we’re going to do at a particular time,” he said on CBS News’s Face the Nation.
“Let’s focus like a laser on continuing to get those cases down,” he said. “And we can do it by people getting vaccinated, and also in the situation where boosters are appropriate, to get people boosted.”
Fauci warned people not to grow complacent as numbers continue to drop this fall. The surge due to the more contagious Delta variant has peaked, but cases could increase again.
“If you look at the history … of the different surges we’ve had, it’s come up, start to come down, and then all of a sudden, boom, come back up again,” he said. “And it’s coming down, we have within our capability … to go down to a very, very low level, with vaccination and with mitigation.”
About 65% of people in the U.S. ages 12 and older are fully vaccinated, according to the latest CDC data. But vaccination rates are lowest nationally among ages 12-17.
When thinking about gathering with family members and unvaccinated children for the holidays, people should consider the transmission in the community, outdoor settings, ventilation, and mask-wearing, Fauci said.
“We know now that this is clearly spread by aerosol, and … you absolutely want more ventilation, which is the reason why outdoors is always much safer than indoors,” he said. “And if you are indoors, ventilation is going to be key.”