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Oct. 19, 2020, 7:58 a.m. EDT

Dr. Fauci urges Americans to make sacrifices: ‘Thanksgiving is going to look very different this year’

The veteran immunologist on voting in person: ‘It’s just as safe to go and get a cup of coffee in a Starbucks’

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By Quentin Fottrell, MarketWatch


CBS News
‘People should be very careful and prudent about social gatherings,’ Dr. Anthony Fauci said on CBS News.

Dr. Anthony Fauci has some words of advice for Americans.

Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and an expert in infectious diseases for the last four decades, also told CBS News this week that Dr. Deborah Birx, the response coordinator for White House Coronavirus Task Force, has been out in the field looking at the increase in COVID-19 cases in households.

“She’s done an amazing job of traveling to different states trying to get a feel for what’s going on,” he told CBS News anchor Norah O’Donnell. Fauci said Birx told him: ”Household transmission now is assuming a greater element of the transmissibility. Don’t assume that because you’re in your own home with your own family that you’re not going to spread infection.”

Fauci said his children won’t visit. “Thanksgiving is going to look very different this year,” he said on Wednesday’s interview. “I would love to have it with my children, but my children are in three separate states throughout the country and, in order for them to get here, they would all have to go to an airport and get on a plane. All three of them want very much to come home for Thanksgiving.”

Related: CDC says big Thanksgiving gatherings are a high-risk activity. Here’s how to safely visit family this holiday season

“People should be very careful and prudent about social gatherings,” he added. “You may have to bite the bullet, and sacrifice social gatherings unless you’re pretty certain that the people you’re dealing with are not infected, or have very recently tested, or they’re living a lifestyle in which they don’t have any interaction with anybody except you and your family.”

Fauci said that voting in person is just as safe as going to Starbucks, assuming other people are also wearing masks. “I think it’s just as safe to go and get a cup of coffee in a Starbucks in which everyone’s wearing a mask and doing the things they should be doing.” Schedule permitting, he said he may go to his local school in person to cast his vote in the presidential election on Nov. 3.

As of Monday, COVID-19 had infected over 40 million people worldwide, a number that mostly does not account for asymptomatic cases, and killed more than 1.1 million people. The U.S. still has the world’s highest number of cases and deaths (8.1 million and 219,674 deaths), followed by India (7.5 million), Brazil (5.2 million) and Russia (1.4 million), according to Johns Hopkins University.

Also see: New Yorkers don’t have much hope that the city will recover from COVID-19 anytime soon

AstraZeneca /zigman2/quotes/200304487/composite AZN -1.08% , in combination with Oxford University; BioNTech SE /zigman2/quotes/214419716/composite BNTX +2.33% and partner Pfizer /zigman2/quotes/202877789/composite PFE -0.49% ; Johnson & Johnson /zigman2/quotes/201724570/composite JNJ -1.02% ; Merck & Co. ID:MERK -0.61% ; Moderna /zigman2/quotes/205619834/composite MRNA +3.50% ; Sanofi /zigman2/quotes/202859081/composite SAN +0.36% and GlaxoSmithKline /zigman2/quotes/209463850/composite GSK -0.78% are among those currently working toward COVID-19 vaccines.

In May, a majority of Americans (55%) said they would get vaccinated if/when a vaccine becomes available, but that number has fallen to 32%, according to a Yahoo/YouGov poll conducted from Sept. 9 to Sept. 11. For the first time, more people said they won’t get vaccinated (33%) or are unsure if they’ll get vaccinated (34%) than those who reported they would receive the vaccine.

Speaking on CBS News, Fauci also expressed concern about people going indoors to socialize due to the colder weather, and said that 50,000 daily new COVID-19 cases in the U.S. is “an unacceptably high level.” The doctor added, “In the fall you’re seeing people doing more things indoors. That’s always a bad situation to be in when you’re dealing with a respiratory infection.”

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Quentin Fottrell is MarketWatch's personal-finance editor and The Moneyist columnist for MarketWatch. You can follow him on Twitter @quantanamo.

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