Fauci urges Americans to conduct ‘risk-benefit assessment’ before holiday travel

Top infectious disease expert Anthony FauciAnthony FauciSunday shows preview: Biden transition, COVID-19 spike in spotlight Pressure rises for rapid COVID-19 testing White House largely silent on health precautions for Thanksgiving MORE urged Americans on Sunday to conduct a “risk-benefit assessment” before traveling for the holidays as Thanksgiving approaches this week.

Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), told NBC News’ “Meet the Press” that families need to consider the risks of gathering indoors. He said families especially need to take into account if their gatherings plan to include those who are elderly or have underlying conditions affecting their immune system.

“I think the people in this country need to realistically do a risk-benefit assessment,” he said. “Every family is different. Everyone has a different level of risk that they want to tolerate.”

The NIAID director acknowledged that holiday gatherings “have been such joyous things in the past,” but added “this is a very special situation.”

“So you don’t want to call it all off, but you want to say at least give you and your family the benefit of having considered what is the risk-benefit of doing that as opposed to constraining what you do to the very core people who live in your home,” he said. “You just need to consider it and make your own decision.”

Fauci emphasized that the almost exponentially rising numbers in the country “doesn’t necessarily” have to continue.

“We’re not going to completely eliminate it and turn it around rapidly and dramatically, but we can prevent it from increasing,” he said.

“We should not accept that we can’t do anything about that,” the public health expert added. “Putting vaccines aside for a moment, which will be extraordinarily helpful, if we implement the simple public health measures that I was mentioning to you, we can blunt that inflection. It doesn’t have to be as high up.”

The U.S. reached the milestone of 250,000 COVID-19 deaths last week, since the beginning of the pandemic this spring. The country documented single-day records for hospitalizations on Saturday with 83,227 currently hospitalized, according to the COVID Tracking Project

On Friday, the U.S. confirmed a record-number of COVID-19 cases in a single day at 192,805 new cases. 

Last week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended against traveling for Thanksgiving amid the ongoing surge in cases.

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