Appearing on ABC’s This Week on the Sunday morning after Thanksgiving, the nation’s top infectious disease expert and voice of reason amid the novel coronavirus pandemic dropped some harsh realities on viewers—but also reminded us that we can make better choices starting, well, today. In speaking to host Martha Raddatz about our rising case numbers, Dr. Anthony Fauci said “there almost certainly is going to be an uptick because of what has happened with the travel” over Thanksgiving. He also chatted with Raddatz about the COVID-19 vaccine, reopening schools, and the next stage of the holiday season: Christmas and New Year’s.
Given that we already know people planned to travel and gather for Thanksgiving, many of us are wondering—and worried—that people are planning to repeat the pattern just one month from now. But as Fauci urged viewers, “We’re going to have to make decisions as a nation, state, city and family, that we’re in a very difficult time and we’re going to have to do the kinds of restrictions of things we would like to have done, particularly in this holiday season.” Basically, now is not the time to shrug our shoulders and admit defeat in the face of worsening numbers.
“We may see a surge upon a surge,” a few weeks down the line, Fauci said, stressing that “we don’t want to frighten people, but that’s just the reality.” Fauci shared that as we enter a colder weather season, as well as a bigger holiday season with people traveling back and forth, he doesn’t foresee relaxed guidelines or restrictions when it comes to facing the virus.
Fauci also brought up hope for a vaccine in the near future, citing the end of December as a starting point for top priority individuals, and then progressively more people receiving vaccinations through March.
When asked about legal barriers in terms of pandemic restrictions, Fauci put it simply when he said there’s nothing he personally can do about it. He stressed that no matter who you are, or where you are, if you have a congregate setting of people—especially if they are inside, and especially if they are not wearing masks—that’s a “considerable risk” for getting or spreading the infection.
When asked how he would advise the Biden administration on getting a “unified response” in terms of COVID-19 closings, Fauci suggested to “close the bars and keep the schools open.” He noted that there’s no one-size-fits-all solution, but getting students back in school should be a priority, and in order to do that safely, we need to get our community spread levels low.
Fauci still wants to see more testing available for asymptomatic people, saying he hopes it’s “sooner rather than later,” especially when it comes to contact tracing and community spread tracking. He mentioned hope for at-home rapid tests, perhaps even without a prescription, for at least some circumstances.
Fauci also stressed that the process for developing the vaccine has been “scientifically sound.” According to Fauci, “safety has not been compromised, scientific integrity has not been compromised and the process of determining whether it works, whether it's safe and effective has been independent by independent bodies and transparent.”