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Dr. Fauci Says How You Can "Innocently" Get Infected

“Infections that we're seeing now are infections” from “a social gathering,” says Fauci.
Director Of Nat'l Institute of Allergy And Infectious Diseases Discusses Global Health Threats

We are a nation in crisis: coronavirus cases and hospitalizations are surging and the Thanksgiving travel will lead to more spread. Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation's top infectious disease expert and director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, spoke with the Washington Post during a live event yesterday, warning viewers that we're entering a very vulnerable period.

"We're now at over 250,000 deaths, a quarter of a million deaths. You could get well over 300,000 and close to even more than that if we don't turn things around," Fauci said.  "I don't want this to be a doomsday statement. It is within our power to not let those numbers happen," he said. "The fact is, you don't have to accept those numbers as being inevitable." Read on to find out where "the virus is spread" and how to avoid it, and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had Coronavirus.

Dr. Fauci Says the Virus is Spread at Small Gatherings

Dr. Fauci's warning is particularly prudent this week, as families gather for Thanksgiving. "People need to remember that the kinds of infections that we're seeing now are infections in this, in the exact setting—a dinner, a social gathering, 5, 10, 15 people seemingly innocently and inadvertently getting together enjoying themselves.

But what we're seeing, given the fact that people who are asymptomatic, namely without symptoms, who can come into that sort of setting and inadvertently and innocently infecting people, because you're indoors, you're not wearing a mask. You don't have the kind of ventilation and moving of air that you have on the outside.

And we are actually seeing in reality—not hypothetically, but in reality—we're starting to see a considerable number of instances of cases where you have that same sort of innocent family and friends gathering indoors that are turning into places where the virus is spread. So to the extent possible as difficult it is from a social standpoint to avoid that, please try to avoid that and constrain the kinds of things you do to the immediate family and people that you assure that they're being careful."

The CDC seconds his opinion and has warned against Thanksgiving gatherings and travel for this reason. "As cases continue to increase rapidly across the United States, the safest way to celebrate Thanksgiving is to celebrate at home with the people you live with," reports the agency. "Gatherings with family and friends who do not live with you can increase the chances of getting or spreading COVID-19 or the flu."

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Opinions Vary About the Danger of Small Gatherings

Other experts have sounded similar alarms about these gatherings. Household gatherings have "become a major vector of disease spread," the Health and Human Services secretary, Alex Azar, said in an interview with CNN in late October.

"It's those informal, private gatherings where we're seeing the ignition taking off in terms of the infection rate," Gov. Ned Lamont of Connecticut said earlier this month. He restricted gatherings to 10 people. Other states are taking similar measures.

However, The New York Times this week cast a bit of doubt about the data behind these decisions. "Household get-togethers undoubtedly do contribute to community transmission of the virus. Canada's recent Thanksgiving certainly added to its rising cases; such an increase may happen here, too, as the United States embarks on a holiday season like no other. That's why the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Thursday warned so strongly against gathering with others outside the household during Thanksgiving," reported the paper. "But are dinners and backyard barbecues really the engine driving the current surge of infections? The available data do not support that contention, scientists say. Still, the idea has been repeated so often it has become conventional wisdom, leading to significant restrictions in many states."

"Somebody says something, and somebody else says it, and then it just becomes truth," Julia Marcus, an infectious disease epidemiologist at Harvard University, told the paper. "I worry about this narrative that doesn't yet seem to be data-based."

The paper said it was "nearly impossible" to track every source of the surge. To that end, use the utmost precaution and avoid all situations that make you vulnerable, and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these 35 Places You're Most Likely to Catch Coronavirus.