Fauci says Thanksgiving plans amid coronavirus will be ‘individual choice’ based on risk

With a number of regions across the country seeing a rise in coronavirus cases and a potential vaccine still months away, the pandemic is likely to impact Thanksgiving celebrations and plans this year. Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s leading infectious disease expert, said Thursday that people will have to make “their individual choice” when it comes to how to go about celebrating the holiday and seeing family.

“It’s a beautiful tradition of getting family together,” he told Yahoo News on Thursday during a live Q&A. “I think we need to realize things might be different this year, particularly if you want to have people who are going to be flying in from a place that has a lot of infection – you’re going to an airport that might be crowded, you’re on a plane, and then to come in — unless you absolutely know you’re not infected — there are many people who are not going to want to take that risk.”

Fauci said his own children, three daughters who live in different states, have decided against coming to see him this year.

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“They’re adult women, I would love to see them – but they themselves are concerned about getting on a plane, being in an airport, coming in for a couple of days with their father, me, who is in an age group that is vulnerable, and they’ve made the decision that they are not going to do that.”

Fauci said that “hopefully by Christmas” the situation will be different.

“Each individual family needs to make the decision based upon the risk situation in your own family,” he said.

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His comments come a day after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) posted an update to its COVID-19-related holiday guidance. Overall, the agency said “staying home is the best way to protect yourself and others,” but if you “must” travel, to be aware of the risks involved.

The agency states a low-risk way to celebrate this year would be to have a small dinner with only the people who live in your household and preparing meals for higher-risk friends and family that can be delivered. It also suggests watching sports and parades from home rather than in person and having a virtual dinner.

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Visiting pumpkin patches or orchards while maintaining social distance, having small outdoor dinners with family and friends who live within the community, and attending small outdoor sports events with safety precautions are all traditions the agency labels “moderate risk activities.”

Higher-risk activities include going shopping in crowded stores near Thanksgiving, participating in or watching a crowded race, attending crowded parades, using alcohol or drugs, which may increase the risky behaviors, and attending large, indoor gatherings with people from outside your home.