As the holiday season approaches, many people around the country are wondering whether it’s safe to travel and gather with friends and family during a pandemic.
White House advisor Dr. Anthony Fauci has already decided that he will be having a “very, very closed family type of thing,” he said during a webinar hosted by American University’s Kennedy Political Union on Tuesday.
“We would love for them to come home for Thanksgiving,” Fauci, who lives in Washington, D.C., said. “They have said themselves, ‘Dad, you know you’re a young, vigorous guy, but you’re 79 years old.’”
Instead, Fauci’s daughters said, “We want you and mommy to have a nice, quiet dinner,” he recalled. “Maybe have a neighbor next door that always comes over the house that you know that’s negative, and we’ll send our love via Zoom.”
The Centers for Disease Control considers large indoor gatherings with people from outside of your household a “higher risk activity,” and suggests having a small dinner party with only people in your household for Thanksgiving.
Of course, everyone has a different family situation, so “you’ve got to take it as an individual case,” and consider where you’re going as well as who you’re spending time with, Fauci said.
For example, if you have an elderly person in your family who has an underlying health condition that would make them more susceptible to severe illness from Covid-19, you may not want to get together.
Or if you’re planning to travel to visit far-flung relatives, consider the infection rate of the place you’re headed. “The more cases at your destination, the more likely you are to get infected during travel and spread the virus to others when you return,” according to the CDC.
In the Midwest and Northwest, there’s been an uptick in positive Covid-19 results, “which tends to be a predictor that you’re going to have surges,” Fauci told CNN’s Chris Cuomo Tuesday. With colder weather, more people are spending time indoors, which makes it harder to block transmission of infection, he said.
“Some people in this country are going to be able to have a relatively normal type of a Thanksgiving, but in other areas, you better hold off,” he told CNN.
For those traveling, it’s important to understand your individual risk. The CDC says the lowest-risk travel scenario is driving with no stops to a destination, with only members of your household, staying in a house or cabin and bringing your own food and drinks.
“Maybe you want to come in and quarantine yourself for a number of days or get tested a couple of times before you go in,” Fauci said. Since Thanksgiving holidays often only span three or four days, “that’s going to be kind of an inconvenience,” he said.
Ultimately, Thanksgiving in 2020 will look a different than it has in other years.
“I’m not going to criticize people who do it differently, but look at the individual situation in your own family and make a decision that way,” Fauci said.