Dr. Anthony Fauci, (for better or worse) the country’s top disease expert, said in a recent interview that he will only celebrate Christmas this year with his wife—“period.”
“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. 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,” he said.
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His advice is not new. Michael Osterholm, a member of Joe Biden’s COVID-19 advisory board, told CNN this month that the only gatherings that are safe to attend are the ones that only involve your “pod.”
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“Don’t get together with neighbors,” he said. “No Christmas parties. There is not a safe Christmas party in this country right now unless everybody for the previous 10-14 days were podded.”
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There have been 17 million confirmed coronavirus cases in the U.S. since the beginning of the outbreak and 3,656 Americans died on Wednesday alone. The Guardian reported that jobless claims increased by 885,000 last week.
The World Health Organization urged Europeans to wear masks when visiting family members in order to stem the virus. The health body said that these gatherings “should be held outside if possible, and participants should wear masks and maintain physical distancing.”
Fauci and other health officials have faced fierce criticism over these guidelines. Fauci told The Washington Post’s “Power Up” newsletter that Americans should stay home as much as possible and said “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.”
He later insisted on Fox News that he was not recommending that Americans cancel the holiday. He said that people need to make “individual choices.”
“When you’re talking about having a congregate setting for dinner, [I’m saying] not cancel the family aspect.