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Anthony Fauci warned on Thursday that Americans should rethink their usual plans for traditional Thanksgiving gatherings, citing increased coronavirus infections and hospitalizations.
Fauci, the most senior public health official on the White House coronavirus taskforce, told ABC News that given the rise in cases in almost three dozen US states, “we’ve really got to double down on fundamental public health measures that we talk about every day, because they can make a difference”.
He frequently urges social distancing, mask-wearing and hand-washing by individuals and good messaging, testing and contact tracing by government bodies.
As for Thanksgiving, when millions of Americans travel to gather with families and friends, Fauci says this 26 November may need to be different. “We really have to be careful this time that each individual family evaluates the risk-benefit.”
The US government’s top infectious disease expert said it was especially important because people traveling over the holiday often pass through crowded transportation hubs such as airports.
“If you have vulnerable people, the elderly or people that have underlying conditions, you better consider whether you want to do that now or maybe just forestall it [gatherings] and wait,” Fauci said.
Fauci also criticized a declaration by a group of scientists that supports the concept of “herd immunity”, which the White House is using to bolster a push to reopen schools and businesses. Fauci told ABC that backing herd immunity, the idea that a disease will stop spreading once nearly everybody has contracted it, is “total nonsense”.
“If you talk to anybody who has any experience in epidemiology and infectious diseases, they will tell you that that is risky and you’ll wind up with many more infections of vulnerable people, which will lead to hospitalizations and death,” he told Good Morning America on Thursday.
“So I think that we’ve just got to look that square in the eye and say it’s nonsense.”
The US leads the world with 7.9m coronavirus cases and nearly 217,000 confirmed deaths.
Globally, there have been 38m reported cases and 1.09m confirmed deaths.
On Thursday afternoon, Donald Trump attacked Fauci during the president’s North Carolina campaign rally, after Fauci had criticized the president’s re-election campaign for featuring him in a political ad without his consent.
The president mocked Fauci for altering his advice to Americans earlier in the pandemic on the advisability of wearing face masks to limit the spread of coronavirus, and misquoted him.
“He said ‘do not wear a mask, do not wear a mask under any circumstances’,” Trump told the crowd. “Then they say, ‘Oh, wear a mask’.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention initially said healthy people without any known exposure to coronavirus did not have to wear masks, but the agency altered that guidance after evidence showed masks could help limit the spread of the virus from people who are asymptomatic or not yet showing symptoms.
Trump also said of Fauci: “He’s a Democrat; everybody knows that.”
Fauci, who has led the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases since 1984, actually does not have a party affiliation, according to his voter registration.
Fauci has also explicitly said he did not want to be featured in Trump’s campaign ads because “it’s so clear that I’m not a political person”.
“I have never – either directly or indirectly – endorsed a political candidate,” Fauci told CNN on Monday. “And to take a completely out-of-context statement and put it in which is obviously a political campaign ad, I thought was really very disappointing.”
The president also once again said, against all evidence, that the pandemic is going to die away.
“It’s going to peter out, and it’s going to end, but we’re going to help the end,” Trump said, offering very rosy predictions about the development of a coronavirus vaccine and therapeutics.
Trump, who recently recovered from coronavirus after being airlifted to hospital and given the best treatment available anywhere in the world, including pioneering medications, said: “One thing I do say is get to the hospital early. Get there early. They can do things.”
This belies the fact that many in the US who have been struck by coronavirus had inadequate access to healthcare.
At his rally, Trump also recounted an anecdote where he had told a supporter that the only person in the world more famous than himself is Jesus Christ.
Source: The Guardian
Keyword: Fauci warns Americans to rethink Thanksgiving amid coronavirus surge | Coronavirus