Fauci says it’s ‘too soon’ to tell if gathering for Christmas holidays is safe

Dr. Anthony Fauci said on Sunday that he’s not sure it’ll be safe for Americans to gather in close proximity over the Christmas and holiday season due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, noting that he believes it’s “too soon” to tell.

In an interview with Margaret Brennan of CBS’s “Face the Nation,” the chief White House medical adviser and head of the National Institute of Allergies and Infectious Diseases offered his prognosis for safe holiday celebrations when asked if Americans should limit gatherings, which is what federal health officials recommended last 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,” Fauci told Brennan.

“Let’s focus like a laser on continuing to get those cases down. And we can do it by people getting vaccinated and also in the situation where boosters are appropriate to get people boosted,” he continued.

Fauci’s comments come as the U.S. surpassed 700,000 COVID-19 deaths on Friday, though the latest surge in cases and hospitalizations — driven largely by the spread of the Delta variant — appears to be slowing down.

Also, Fauci’s comments come as venues around the country such as college and professional football stadiums have been filled to the brim since their seasons began in August, which could be reflective of higher vaccination rates among the population as well as a diminishing concern about the virus and a desire for a return to normal.

Nevertheless, Fauci warned that Americans ought not to be complacent or worry less about getting vaccinated if they have not already done so.

“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 told Brennan. “As it’s coming down, we have within our capability, we can make this happen. Namely go down to a very, very low level, with vaccination and with mitigation.”

Currently, anyone over the age of 12 is eligible for a vaccine. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 65.2 percent of the population is vaccinated. Nationally, vaccine rates are lower for young Americans between the ages of 12 and 17, though COVID cases have risen somewhat among children.

As kids headed back to school, there was concern among many that in-person classes could produce new outbreaks. One state, California, has mandated that all students and staff must be vaccinated, becoming the first to do so — and Fauci says he agrees with Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom’s decision to require it since vaccinations for kids entering school have been mandatory for “decades.”

“People need to realize that having a vaccine requirement for schools is not a new, novel thing that is very peculiar or specific to COVID-19. We’ve been doing this for decades,” he said.

“My own children could not have gone to school if they had not gotten vaccinated with the measles, mumps, and rubella. So when we see pushback on that, it’s as if this never happened before. It’s actually ongoing with other vaccines. So, let’s do it with a virus that’s very, very serious,” he told Brennan.

In addition to schools in California, businesses and corporations around the country are also requiring their staff and employees to get a vaccine. Other cities are requiring people to show proof of vaccination before they can enter certain venues.

Still, other states like Florida have banned COVID-related mandates.

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